Real Women. Real Lives. Real Stories.

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Talking about real women and real solutions at “Women Deliver Philippines”

By Liwliwa Malabed

Once upon a time (around the 1800s), 4 out of 10 mothers died giving birth. Today, maternal mortality is still the leading cause of death among women around the globe. In the Philippines, 162 women die for every 100,000 live births. Although the number seems a lot lower, we sometimes forget that this number represents lives, real women. Women who could be our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our friends.


Mulat Pinoy Content Supervisor Dante Gagelonia at Women Deliver

Three hundred and sixty-five (365) participants from all over the country convened in “Women Deliver Philippines,” where they talked about real women and real solutions. The three-day conference, held in Crowne Plaza Hotel from September 15 to 17, highlighted maternal and newborn health issues. The issues discussed included the role of men in SRH, the media’s role and responsibility in accelerating MDGs 4 and 5, effective contraception, the youth’s access to SRH, interfaith initiatives in safe motherhood, strengthening urban health systems, and improving newborn and infant survival, among others. Many stories were told, but the ones that stuck were those of Lourdes and Olivia.


Hers is no fairy tale. Lourdes Osil has seven children. Her husband, Jessy, earns only PhP227 a day driving a tricycle. This family of nine finds it hard to eat twice a day. Unable to afford a space of their own, they live with relatives and share their already cramped shanty.

Ten years ago, Lourdes decided to plan for her family. She went to the health center in San Andres Bukid to avail of free contraceptives, only to find out that then-Mayor Atienza banned these from public family planning centers of Manila, leaving natural planning as the only option. And for poor women like Lourdes, contraceptives come last in their family’s list of needs. So she ended up having three more children than she planned.

We have always heard of EO 003, Atienza’s imposition of his personal beliefs on his constituents, depriving them of their rights, but it was my first time to hear about Lourdes. Lourdes, together with 19 others, filed a case in 2008 against the Office of the Mayor, City of Manila to declare the executive order as unconstitutional. Lourdes keeps up the fight until now.


Olivia lived within a culture where death at childbirth is acceptable (even considered as a natural cause of death) and “hilots,” instead of skilled birth attendants, deliver babies. She died giving birth to her 11th child. Happily ever after seems far away for her children, now that they have lost their mother. Her story is captured in a short film documentary by Maricar Vallido.

As I watched Olivia’s story unfold, I felt responsibility somehow for what happened to her and her family. Her death could have been prevented, and her life saved. Her story was set in Tonsuya, Malabon, where three births are recorded every minute. I still can’t believe that a good number of pregnant women in Metro Manila, like Olivia, still rely on hilots when giving birth.

At present, Olivia’s children have stopped going to school. Olivia’s relatives, being poor themselves, are thinking of giving up her children for adoption.

Put YOUR NAME here. Olivia and Lourdes are only two of the many stories out there. How about you? What is your story? Email us at [email protected] or [email protected].

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