From 2000 to 2010, the incidences of teen pregnancy in the Philippines rose by more than 60 percent, according to the National Statistics Office. The Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study 4 (YAFS4) of 2013 estimated that out of the 10.2 million Filipino youth aged 15 to 19, around 11 percent or 1.14 million are already mothers.
But what does it really mean to be a teenage mom or dad? When does adolescence end, and when do adulthood and parenting begin?
Allan M. Gregorio and Kathrine Jessica G. Calano, youth reporters of the Mulat Pinoy–Kabataan News Network project by Probe Media Foundation Inc., wanted to know the struggles of young parents their age, and how they are able to survive. One scorching afternoon in May 2014, they met Jocelle, 19, and Rufino, 20, a young couple who took turns in taking care of their first child.
Jocelle opened up about her experiences – from the emotional decision of whether to keep the child or not, to the compromises she had to make as a young girl to fulfill her role as a mother.
Rufino’s silence seemed to echo his young wife’s sentiments, yet when he was asked about how it is to be a young dad, he said, “masarap na mahirap (fulfilling but frustrating).”
“Nang malaman kong buntis ako, sinabi ko agad kay Rufino. Sabi niya itutuloy daw namin ‘yong anak namin. Sinabi ko rin kay mama at pinagsabihan ako na huwag ko siyang ipapalaglag… Natakot ako. Noong una nagalit ako sa [bata]. Sinusuntok ko siya sa tiyan ko. Minumura ko pa siya. Tinatapakan ko siya. Sabi ko pa nga, gusto ko siyang ipaampon… Nagalit ako. Parang ayoko, biglaan kasi.”
(When I learned that I was pregnant, I immediately informed Rufino. He said that we should keep the baby. My mother also warned me against having an abortion. I was afraid. At first, I was mad at the baby. I kept punching my stomach. I was cursing the baby. I even considered having her adopted. I was mad. I didn’t want the baby. I wasn’t prepared.)
“Sabi ko sa asawa ko na bigyan ako ng pampalaglag pero natakot din ako. Sabi ng pamilya ko, ‘ginawa mo ‘yan, ginusto mo ‘yan, tanggapin mo ‘yan. Wala ka nang magagawa dahil nandiyan na ‘yan.’ Kapag ako lang mag-isa, pinapakita ko sa kanya na mahal ko siya. Pero pag nasa harap ako ng pamilya ko, pinapakita ko na nagagalit ako sa kanya.”
(I asked my husband to help me have the child aborted. My family said “You made the decision. You should accept the baby. You have no choice.” When I am alone, I try to express how much I love the baby. But when I am around my family, I show them that I am mad at him.)
“Tuwang-tuwa ako nang nakita ko siya, noong lumabas na siya sa tiyan ko. Kapag naririnig ko siyang umiiyak, gusto kong makatabi siya. Gusto kong magdede siya sa akin, kahit bawal akong tumayo…Habang tumatagal, tinanggap ko naman na siya. Lagi akong puyat sa pagbabantay sa kanya. Tapos lagi siyang iyak nang iyak. Tapos gusto niya puro buhat… Mahal ko siya kahit nahihirapan ako sa kanya.”
(I was very happy when I saw him come out of me. I wanted to be with him whenever I hear him cried. I wanted to feed him even if I wasn’t allowed to stand up yet. Eventually, I learned to accept him. He always cries and he always insists on lifting him up. I love him even if taking care of him is hard.)
“Gusto ng asawa ko na tumira kami sa bahay nila pero ayoko. Ayoko sa nanay niya. Sabi niya ‘walang pinag-aralan ‘yan, pokpok, malandi ‘yang babaeng ‘yan.’ Hinusgahan po nila ako agad.”
(My husband wanted us to live with his family but I don’t like his mom. His mom always insulted me, saying I am uneducated. She even accused me of being a prostitute. They have always judged me.)
“Sabi ng kuya ko na huwag na lang daw ituloy ‘yong pag-aaral ko, alagaan ko na lang daw ‘yong anak ko. Pero sa puso ko, alam ko na gusto ko talagang mag-aral. May trabahong inaalok sa akin ang kumare ng nanay ko sa ibang bansa. Pero ayoko kasi mapapalayo ako sa anak ko. Dito na lang ako sa bahay namin. Masaya naman dito eh.”
(My brother told me not to continue my studies so I can focus on taking care of my baby. In my heart, I know I still want to study. My mother’s friend offered a work abroad. But I didn’t want to be away from my child. I decided to stay here in our house.)
Allan M. Gregorio and Kathrine Jessica G. Calano are among the 16 youth reporters chosen by Probe Media Foundation Inc.’s Mulat Pinoy-Kabataan News Network (MP-KNN) project to be trained for journalism and youth participation at the 1st National Multimedia Production Workshop.
This photo essay is their output after an afternoon of fieldwork and a day of post-production. MP-KNN discusses teenage pregnancy in “Kids Having Kids,” the first episode of the e-Kapihan Web Series. Watch part 1 here.
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