The day Maria Clara learned the ABCs of reproductive health
To celebrate the 65th Anniversary of the Battle of Manila, nationalist and Filipino tour guide Carlos Celdran recently held the one-of-a-kind 2nd Transitio 1945 tour – one-of-a-kind because in the middle of the festivities, ladies depicting Maria Clara dressed in baro’t saya gave away condoms as a reminder for everyone “to be responsible about their reproductive health.”
Celdran, who initiated the concept of having Maria Clara advocate reproductive health with RH advocate Ana Santos, believes that “Maria Clara, being the epitome of Filipina purity, innocence, and beauty is an ironic, yet timely symbol of sexual education and awareness.”
Maria Clara or Maria Clara de los Santos is a major character in national hero Dr. Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, the seminal book that helped the Philippines rise up in arms against the Spaniards at the end of the 1800s. The illegitimate daughter of Padre Damaso with Pia Alba, she is Crisostomo Ibarra’s faithful, pure and modest sweetheart – traits that are, themselves, believed to be representative of a good woman, i.e. Filipino woman.
In supporting the endeavor, LICK condoms product manager Emman Alfonso said that “(we) share the same thrust of informed choice, safe sex, modern contraceptives and family planning. We should all know the ABC of reproductive health, which stands for Abstinence, Be Faithful and Consistent and Correct use of Condom.”
LICK is distributed in the Philippines by DKT Philippines, a non-government organization that advocates family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention.
“We’re happy to see that people are talking about these issues and more importantly, trying to find ways to resolve them,” Alfonso added.
Earlier, DOH disclosed that it recorded a total of 4,218 HIV/AIDS cases between 1984 and 2009. However, a marked increase was noticeable this year. For February alone, a total of 130 HIV cases were registered, an increase of 117% compared to the same period last year. From one new case reported every three days in 2000, it increased to one per day in 2007, and doubled to two new cases per day in 2009. This year, about five new cases are being reported to the DOH’s AIDS registry each day.
DKT Philippines is doing its part in alleviating what is now known as the HIV/AIDS pandemic by providing reproductive health information, and making reproductive health products available. DKT Philippines began its social marketing campaign in 1991 by introducing TRUST condoms. DKT Philippines’ reproductive health products provide a bridge from government-provided contraceptives to the commercialization of the contraceptive market.
“We now know that the HIV/AIDS situation in the country has already reached pandemic proportions, and we realize that addressing this issue needs a multi-sectoral approach,” said Alfonso. “We at DKT Philippines, are open to working with the government, the church, the civil society, the media and other key sectors.”
For Santos, founder and editorial director of sexandsensibilities.com, RH can be “sexy and sassy.” “We believe in the power of informed choice. Sexual health information and access is a right. It is not a privilege for just a chosen few. At the end of the day, whether or not you’re going to have sex, you have to be smart and sensible about your sexual health.”