Change is inevitable.  You’ll suddenly notice a growing child, from cute little girl to fine young lady, from energetic little boy to gentle young man.  The transition from childhood to adulthood is the period of rapid and dynamic physical, emotional, social and sexual maturing or we can simply call it as adolescence.  Young people nowadays, must be well guided and taken-care of during this stage.

Adolescence is where a major point in life that opens and determines the course of many aspects of the rest of a person’s life. Their behaviors both sexual and non-sexual, as well as the corresponding consequences of their actions, have profound impacts on their lives, their families and the society.

Teenagers undergo a dramatic and unpredictable period of self-realization, discovery, experiments, fear, and confusion. They are vulnerable with stress and committing mistakes.  That is why adolescence is considered to be the most critical stage of a person.

One of the major components of the Philippine Population Management Program is the Adolescent Health and Youth Development Program (AHYDP).  The goal of AHYDP is to improve the total well-being of Filipino youth.  It aims to help adolescents and youth avoid risky sexual behaviors to reduce incidence of teenage pregnancies, early marriages, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and, other psycho-social concerns.

 The AHYDP adopted several strategies to achieve the goals and objectives of the program.  Most common of which is conduct of orientations, seminars, assemblies, and, interactive workshops.

The Commission on Population Region IV (POPCOM IV) has strong coordination with their Local Government Partners both in CALABARZON and MIMAROPA to harmoniously organize and deliver these strategies of AHYDP.

One of its innovative and in-demand strategies among the Local Government Unit partners is the You-for-You (U4U) which is a Youth Hub initiative of the Commission on Population (POPCOM) and UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

 U4U is an educational and engaging teen caravan includes interactive exhibit, fun workshops, songs and dances can be set up easily in schools and communities and facilitated by teens themselves. It aims to deliver critical information to Filipino teens to prevent teen pregnancy and reduce the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections through their innovative platforms like online portal, social media, interactive voice response system, and teen trail.

 U4U goes to MIMAROPA

MIMAROPA’s Local Government Units (LGU) wanted their youth to experience the fun and learning of U4U as they requested to conduct the event among the provinces and cities of MIMAROPA.  POPCOM Region IV’s (POPCOM IV) role is to give technical assistance in conducting to these events.

For the year 2015, there are already 700 young people have participated in U4U Teen Trail events over 6 provinces and cities of MIMAROPA namely; Odiongan, Romblon for the month of February; Santa Cruz and Boac, Marinduque for the month of March; Naujan, Oriental Mindoro and Parang, Calapan City for the same day of the month of July; Puerto Princesa, Palawan for the month of September; and lastly Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro for the month of November.

MIMAROPA’s U4U Teen Trails are evaluated by the participants as positive and successful.  Hence, to expand the exciting learning atmosphere of U4U, every province and city which experience U4U is expected to have a rollout of it.

Aside from U4U, LGU can request from POPCOM other strategies that reach out the youth sector.

 AHYD Orientation and ASRH Class

POPCOM IV conducted Adolescent Health Youth Development (AHYD) Orientation and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) Classes on some provinces of MIMAROPA for the year 2015. Both strategies aims to educate the youth on adolescent sexuality and other health related concerns.

A walkthrough of AHYD Orientations were conducted in Odiongan, Romblon for the month of July; Puerto Princesa, Palawan for the month of September; and Buenavista, Marinduque for the month of August.  A one day orientation familiarized the participants in sexual threats and risks, and getting to know and understand one’s self as an adolescent. 

Similar to AHYD Orientation, the ASRH class’ participants would realize and understand the health risks involved in pre-marital sex, early marriages, teenage pregnancies and other issues confronting young people.  It also make the participants gain new insights on how to be a better adolescent for their parents and how to become responsible adult.

The only difference between the two is that ASRH class has module to follow like lesson plans of teachers.  ASRH classes are discussed by trained students to be delivered to their classmates.  

Students from Baco National High School in Baco, Oriental Mindoro and Santa Monica National High School in Puerto Princesa City gained new knowledge from this kind of class in the month of August and September of 2015. In addition, Baco National High School was the pioneer school in conducting ASRH Class for the whole Mindoro and the chosen students, student leaders, were also equipped with the Interpersonal Skill Communication Training for their facilitation extension of ASRH class in other satellite schools in Oriental Mindoro.

Hopes up

It is not too late to help some of the adolescents and young adults who are being misled.  They already did things that were not supposed to be done and they may feel neglected but through heartwarming acts, let them see and feel that there are people who still care for them.  A youth’s action is for his fellow youth’s awareness and knowledge.

With continuous implementation of these strategies and strengthen tie ups with LGU partners, POPCOM IV believes so much in shaping the youth that it will achieve the vision for young people today.

Adolescents must keep in mind that: “Ang pag-aaral ay para sa hinaharap, huwag ipagpalit sa sandaling sarap.”

By: Jasmine Rose Osias, POPCOM 4