1 September 2006, Makati --- More than a thousand breastfeeding mothers together with civic organizations unite to protect breastfeeding through a forum and a colorful public display of a thousand slogan umbrellas at the Risen Garden, Quezon City Hall. The slogans, written in English, Filipino and local dialects, embodied the voice and sentiments of the mothers in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to temporarily suspend the implementation of the Executive Order 51 or the Philippine Milk Code. The code aims to protect mothers and infants through promoting breastfeeding and regulating advertisements of breastmilk substitutes.
Participating communities include: breastfeeding moms and youths from Vasra, Tatalon, Batasan, Novaliches, Bahaytoro, Pag-asa in Quezon City and Tumana, Marikina.
“Breastfeeding is very important. I don’t have to spend for it. It has all the nutrients that bottle-feeding can’t give, stresses Mary Rose, a 19 year-old breastfeeding advocate who is nursing her first baby.
“There is a lot of power when we all get together to do something. The Philippines needs you to advocate for breastfeeding to bring back the culture of breastfeeding”, says UNICEF Communication Chief Dale Rutstein while affirming the mothers in their effort to defend breastfeeding in the country.
Rutstein adds, “Every mother has enough milk. It’s not true that women don’t have enough milk. When she gets stressed, when she gets very anxious she won’t be able to produce milk very fast. Relax and let nature take its course.”
These reminders surely did not fall on deaf ears.
“I realized breastfeeding is important because it gives children security”, says Annalie whose pregnant with her first child. “I’ll tell my neighbors what I’ve learned and I’ll breastfeed my baby for two years or more.”
Even soon-to-be fathers vow to promote breastfeeding in their homes.
“I will tell my wife about this. She doesn’t want to breastfeed because she thinks it will hurt. I’ll convince her. I want my baby to be healthy, says Floyd of Novaliches, Quezon City. “My mother breastfed me until I was 2 years old. I’m healthy and I want my child to be healthy as well.”
The event organizers, Arugaan and Piglas ng Kababaihan, are amazed at how the community responded to the breastfeeding campaign. “I was so amazed at how they reacted on the status of the milk code. They said that they (Supreme Court) should not play with our feelings and emotions even if they are educated”, says Arugaan Executive Director Ines Av. Fernandez.
The Arugaan and Piglas ng Kababaihan together with UNICEF will venture on another series of projects to promote breastfeeding in the country. A legal forum on the milk code entitled “Lawyers meet Leaders” and a Philippine Breastfeeding Summit will be held within the year.
Creating more awareness on breastfeeding will help ensure a better future for every child.
“The highest attainable standard of health is only through breastfeeding so that is why children have the right to breastfeed”, concludes Rutstein.
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