On Sexual Health and Speaking Out

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By Dante Gagelonia, Project Coordinator, Mulat Pinoy

Last July 7, Mulat Pinoy conducted a special public forum at the Filipinas Heritage Library, titled, “Sexual Health: Why Should You Care?” It was open to the public, and intended to help people get a broader perspective regarding sexual health concerns beyond the legislative conflict regarding the Reproductive Health bill. Speakers from different walks of life shared their experiences and opinions to the gathered young adults, and it was heart-warming to see how both the speakers and the audience valued the power of good information being shared.

One of the speakers was Vanessa Hamilton Viviezca, a young mother in her early 20s who first got pregnant at the age of 16. She spoke during a segment on teenage pregnancy, and she told the story of how she went through the events surrounding her being pregnant at a very young age. She talked about how difficult things were for her, how she wished she knew more at the time, and how she was able to move forward thanks to the support of her family and close friends.

Vanessa expressed that the Sexual Health forum was a very positive experience for her: “It was great! We tend to avoid this topic because of the stigma attached, but it was nice to be able to speak my mind, freely knowing that I wouldn’t be judged.” She acknowledged that dealing with teenage pregnancy can be a challenging ordeal, and she was happy that she was able to share what she could about her own story.

In the broader context of sexual health, she also has strong feelings about being prepared with adequate information and fostering a productive discourse about it. “It’s such a complex topic, and I would have to say everything about it concerns me,” Vanessa explains. “Being a woman means I’m highly susceptible to passing on whatever disease I might contract to my children. Sexual health is, and should always be, a priority amongst both men and women. And since teens are having sex at such a young age, we need to start involving them in this conversation as well. Some say further educating our youth about sex might only exacerbate the problem. But I think that if they knew more about the repercussions of unsafe sex, they would think twice before doing it.”

Recognizing that the prevalence of the Internet opens broad venues for discussing opinions, ideas and credible medical facts, Vanessa emphasizes the value of online sharing: “I believe that’s precisely what [the Internet] was made for. So often we take for granted the fact that we didn’t always have freedom of speech.  This wasn’t always a luxury we could afford. We need to take advantage of the opportunity at hand. Even the smallest things can spark change. YouTube videos, Facebook and Twitter posts are seen by millions of people. Everyone has the platform to do it; it’s just up to you how you’re going to use it.”

It is important to be heard, Vanessa says. “Nothing is stopping [young people] from participating in the on-going debate about the RH bill or just sexual health discussions in general. This affects our youth the most, since teen pregnancy is on the rise.” It’s not just about expressing oneself, though. Vanessa also says it’s important to seek out the right info, and ask the right questions: “Ask questions, and don’t feel ashamed! Read books, research, watch the Discovery Channel. Information is everywhere, and it’s free! No one can use ignorance as an excuse anymore. You owe it to yourselves, your partner and your children to be aware of the consequences of unsafe sex.”

Do you feel you know enough about sexual health? Do you agree, or disagree, with Vanessa’s perspective? Talk to us. There’s one week left before the deadline of Mulat Pinoy’s Sexual Health: Shout or Shush video contest , so take this opportunity to speak your mind. You could win P25,000 for the simple act of sharing your perspective!


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