“GO slow, don’t be hasty,” Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Domagoso told students during the launch of the program to avert teen pregnancies, which have reached an alarming level in the country.
The launching of Comprehensive Sexuality Education lectures in all public schools, a first in the nation’s history, was held at Araullo High School in Ermita, Manila.
The launch was a project of the Manila Health Department-Family Planning group led by its chief Dr. Criselda Coroza, Marivic Bagallon, Sandy Araneta, and Imelda de Vera.
In his speech, Domagoso exhorted the students to “learn to discern” because not everything they watch on social media, particularly in videos, are right.
Referring to teenage relationships, he noted that the youth should learn to discern to minimize committing mistakes in their lives.
While the feeling is blissful in having a “crush, boyfriend or girlfriend or a ‘loved one,’” Domagoso noted that any relationship should be coupled with reponsibilities.
“Lalo na iyong mga babae na lalaki ang tiyan. Babae ang kawawa kapag nakakuha ng lalaking tolongges [Especially for girls whose bellies will grow with a pregnancy. Pity the girl who gets a guy who’s a fool],” Domagoso said.
The 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey showed that one in 10 young Filipino women aged 15 to 19 has begun childbearing. Eight percent are already mothers and another 2 percent are pregnant with their first child.
Because of this, Domagoso took the lead in the school-based health information dissemination on fertility awareness and sexually transmitted infections.
While the CSE is embodied under the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law, Domagoso said this has not been taught to high school students.
“This would be the first time in the country that this will be regularly taught to our high school students as part of the curriculum. So we will take the lead,” noted Domagoso.
The mayor said the lessons will be integrated in the school curriculum, which has been approved by the Department of Education.
He believes it would be better to start early for students to learn about sexuality and fertility awareness.
Meanwhile, the NDHS also indicated the Philippines has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the ASEAN Region. It spiked by 70 percent between 1999 to 2009.
Of the 17-million births in 2009, over 11 percent involved teen mothers. About one-third of all pregnancies in the Philippines occur between the ages of 15 and 24.
“Teen pregnancy in the Philippines, especially in the center of the county—Manila, could have significant effects in the development of the country,” the survey added.
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