May 4, 2012: PopDev 101 at Iba, Zambales

Last May 4, 2012, Nelry and I boarded the Adamson school bus at 7:00 AM on the way to Zambales. Professors of our university were also with us on the bus; they were to instruct the teachers from Hope Day Care of Cabuyao, Laguna about K-12, English 101 and other relevant topics that could help these community-based teachers to be good educators. However, Nelry and I weren’t going there to teach them about grammar and the new education system. We were fortunately given the opportunity to discuss Population and Development with the teachers.

The ride took 4 to 5 hours. I wasn’t expecting it to be that far, but by the time we arrived at La Viola Beach Resort, I was already feeling the excitement. The sea was calm and inviting. I could jump into the water if I wanted to but I stopped myself; I was here for a different purpose – a purpose more important than having the vacation I have long been praying for.

We took an hour break because the trip to Zambales was really tiring. I realized that the place was really, really remote. There was no loading station, television or radio set. Anyway, Nelry and I used the time to review our notes. We were nervous but nonetheless very excited.

After an hour, we were called to be the first speakers of the seminar. Nelry and I looked at each other, sending mental messages to each other that are of nervousness and fright. *laughs* We then went to our room and prepared ourselves for the seminar.

When we got into the seminar hall, we arranged the materials to be used like the hand outs to be given, the presentation to be used, the videos we will present and the microphones for each of us. Nelry and I divided the report between the two of us so we could focus on different parts of the discussion.

I started off the talk by a viewing of the video “Overpopulation is a Myth.” You can view the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7pwY25qzl4. The audience reacted to the video in a way that it caught their interest. This made my anxiety fade away and as the video reached its end, I began discussing to them the RH Bill. After introducing the RH Bill, I gave the participants a chance to give their opinion on this matter. Some are pro-RH, saying that it would really benefit the country. One participant, Ma’am Rhea, was actually very enthusiastic about it. She believes that the RH Bill is a really good way of educating the people about family planning. Some opposed to the idea, saying that the natural way is still the best way to do it.

We then moved to the second part of our talk, which is PopDev 101. Everything we’ve learned from Prof. Nimfa Ogena‘s discussion in our Social Networth seminar and workshop were inculcated in our presentation. We showed statistics and graphs related to the Philippines’ and world’s population. We defined important words like Total Fertility Rate, Population Momentum and Population Growth Rate. The topics were kind of difficult to understand but the participants were really interested and they gave effort to comprehend the things that we were teaching them.

It was a really interesting discussion; the participants shared their thoughts whenever they have something to add to whatever Nelry or I was saying. I especially liked the part where some of the participants had a debate on whether the choice of the child to engage in pre-marital sex was because of the parents’ lack of guidance or the child’s sole decision. Some said that the parents’ negligence plays a big part in the situation but others pointed out that the child still has the last say in the deed. Our Mass Comm chair, Prof. Jen Derillo shared her thoughts on this. She pointed out that parents need not blame themselves if ever their child engaged in pre-marital sex. It’s not a question of who neglected and who didn’t protect their child enough, but an issue of whether they have tried their best to educate their offspring about sex. She said that at home, they can say all they want about sex to their child but when the child goes out into the world, what they hear and see in their environment that is highly influenced by the media is beyond their control. This is what makes the media powerful. We all agreed with Ma’am Jen.

Tita Merly, one of the participants also shared her thoughts about the use of contraceptives and some wrong notions about the RH Bill. It turns out that she was a health worker in their barangay and she was able to share some important information regarding sex education. “Hindi naman po sa nagkukulang kami sa pag-inform sa public tungkol sa mga bagay na ito. Kami nga po ay nagdo-door-to-door minsan sa mga tahanan upang personal na magbigay kaalaman tungkol sa contraceptives at iba pang bagay. Mahirap lamang po gawin ito sapagkat hindi lahat ay cooperative,” she says. “Ang iba po ay hindi po kami pinagbubuksan ng pinto at di kami pinapansin.” This created a knot in my stomach. If some people lack the effort to care about these things, then it would be really hard to educate people about overpopulation.

The discussion continued on. We all agreed on this: The behavior of a person depends highly on the culture he/she grew up on. The parents can never control the actions of their children but they can always try to build a culture of good decision making around their children so that in the future, they may make sound choices of their own.

In the end, we were all glad to have a discussion about Population and Development. Nelry and I were glad to impart our knowledge to them. The participants were eager to apply and share their learnings to their community. I felt really happy that we were able to touch lives with a simple but meaningful discussion.

We gave the rest of our hand outs to Tita Merly to aid her and her co-health workers in educating people about safe sex and population. Everyone thanked us and clapped their hands for us. Even the professors from Adamson who listened to us told us that we did a good job. We were so thankful that everyone cooperated with us.

I smiled at Nelry. He smiled back at me. Telling people to make good decisions is a good thing but teaching educators of the youth to be part of something that could help the country is a big step towards  change.

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