The University Center for Gender and Development (UCGAD) introduced another enticing and participative way to discuss sensitive topics like teenage pregnancy on this year’s Women’s Month celebration which was anchored on adolescent reproductive health held at the University Convention Center, on March 27.
UCGAD changed the usual call for entries and contest to an hour talakayan or talk show entitled #Kapusukan #Pigilan. The talk show was composed of two panels of experts who processed the discussion and two guests who shared their experiences as young mothers and two facilitators to facilitate discussion.
Ms. Donna Dage Gevero, an 18-year-old Senior High School student and a mother of a 10-month old baby, was emotional as she looked back when she was still a plain student and the factors that pushed her to become a mother at a very young age.
“I am the eldest of five siblings, and I was pressured by my parents to be the best version of myself as a model to my siblings…there comes a time that what my parents saw in me was my mistakes, was even blamed for the mistakes of my siblings… I resolved to do exactly what my parents wouldn’t want me to do to defy them…,” Ms. Gevero confessed.
Ms. Gevero narrated how she was influenced by her friends with vices. She seeks comfort with her boyfriend and friends because she cannot open up with her parents.
Dr. Racquel Dadang, one of the panelists and the Department Chair of Behavioral Science, discussed the two major factors that lead teenagers to premarital sex; first, home inducing situations and second, peer pressure with the mass media. Teenagers were pushed outside their family because their home is not a happy home plus the strong factor of peer pressure.
“A home has to be home. Let’s check the situation of our children at home. If we assigned tasks like doing the laundry and washing plates, we have to explain it to them because it is also part of child-rearing, but often teenagers misinterpreted it as a kind of oppression because we have not explained it to them,” Dr. Dadang expounded.
On the other hand, Ms. Junlo-Fe Luzon, an AB psychology alumna shared her experience as a young mother at the age of 17.
“It’s very hard to become a mother at a very young age—the most difficult is time management especially that I was still studying that time. It’s also very difficult to budget my allowance because I had to think about my baby’s needs. I also have to choose between the things I want, the things I need and my responsibility to my baby,” Ms. Luzon revealed.
Ms. Gevero also disclosed how she balanced her motherhood duties and her studies. She would study while breastfeeding; she would have sleepless nights and have to attend a class at seven. She said that her grades were affected as she should perform both motherhood and student’s duties.
Ms. Chenie Labnotin, registered psychologist and a faculty of behavioral science department explained about parenting and establishing an identity as a young mother as challenges to the young parents.
“Parenting is not taught at school—it is a trial and error approach. For the grandparents, they have to guide young parents about child rearing. Teenage parents, on the other hand, need to acknowledge that they need guidance. Mother and child relationship should be established, and young mothers should feel responsible over the child—It is one of the challenges and consequence of teenage pregnancy, parenting is another,” Ms. Labnotin explained.
Both Ms. Luzon and Ms. Gevero realized the importance of open communication and to ask for advice from the right people—especially their family who helped them on those difficult times.
“In times of difficulty, you can only rely on your family. We have to listen to our parent’s advice—if our parents scolded us it’s because they love us. I am thankful to God that I have my family—our friends they are there in our good times, but it is only our family that we can rely on during difficult times,” Ms. Gevero said.
Ms. Luzon was thankful that her parents and her siblings supported her in her decision to finish her studies. She added: “I really wanted to finish my schooling—what would I become and in what means would I support my child in the future if I have no income?” she reverted.
Meanwhile, Ms. Labnotin emphasized the importance of forgiving and loving oneself before involving other people in one’s life.
“Always remember, the only behavior you can change is yours…admit that you have done wrong, forgive yourself and move on… we have to evaluate our selves how ready and matured we are,” Ms. Labnotin advised.
Furthermore, Dr. Dadang likened responsibility and relationship to perfect timing. She used the metaphor of mango fruit in establishing her point.
“There is a time for everything. This time that you are in college, this is not the time that you will engage in relationships—this is the time to establish your future. Focus more on your studies. Because love is like a mango, if you eat it while it is not yet ripe it is sour, but sweet when it is ripe—just like love and marriage,” she said. (IADalipe-Neri)