Category Archives: Adolescent Health and Youth Development Program

Paying It Forward to the Youth, for the Youth and by the Youth

Paying It Forward to the Youth, for the Youth and by the Youth

A civic space can only be great when there is truly a public place to make meaningful and collaborative exchanges. While this could be another motherhood statement, allow me to talk from memory, from experience, from the heart.

I’m writing this to maybe, somehow encourage and inspire all those who think that they are doing a thankless job in the humanitarian and development sector. The altruistic feeling of being able to help cannot be exchanged with money, the exact experience when you were present in the very moment of being able to help can never be lost and the pure happiness that it brings you are the things that you will forever be your positive guiding light as you go along with life.

I’m now 37 although I still feel 19, the time when I started being part of the Commission on Population’s (POPCOM) Adolescent Health and Youth Development Program (AHYDP) focusing on promotion of good health and well-being specifically, the youth who are more vulnerable and most often feel invincible. I have pledged to myself that I will always help my fellow youth in all that I can with the technical and adaptive expertise that I’ve learned through the years. Right after my own training by CSOs and youth organizations when I myself was a teenager, I decided to help the youth organizations around the world, registered or not, other CSOs, and co-founded a youth organization called “Artistikong Kabataan Philippines, Inc.” (AKP)  a non-profit, non-governmental organization, whose principal activities primarily consist of creativity, connections, charity, and cross cultural communications based in Manila. Our members are youth volunteers who also help in providing civic spaces for their fellow youth. Yes, there’s a ripple effect to this. All those youth that we’ve trained, shown goodness somehow paid it forward like we did. Youth participation is very crucial since their fellow peers will only listen to them. We succeeded because the youth wants to be involved; the youth wants to step up, to lead and be heard. We succeeded because the youth saw our love for them. No drama, only genuine concern.

The best part that I’m most proud of is that those whom I have trained and mentored under the AHYDP have grown to be better citizens, young professionals who still help the next generation of youth organizations starting their own CSOs if not joining the government.

There is no framework. It’s all about having a good heart. It’s all about believing in the advocacy of keeping the civic space open and free for those who want to extend help and support as well.

As for now, I have started my own CSO in my province, and yes, I have started paying it forward.

How about you?


A Growing Population Means That We Have To Survive Each Other By Rhea B. Peñaflor

A Growing Population Means That We Have To Survive Each Other
By Rhea B. Peñaflor

As of this writing, the world’s population is about 6.8 B.

In our country alone, primary statistical agency of the government National Statistics Office (NSO) projects that this year’s population will reach 92.23 M.

This means that the Philippine population will reach over 140 million by the year 2040 according to the final results from the 2000 census-based population projects.

As the world population grows, it is inevitable that WE HAVE TO SURVIVE EACH OTHER.
There is just no denying that the impact of a growing population is a universal problem.

Why so? This is because according to a research presented during the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “as the world population continues to grow geometrically, great pressure is being placed on arable land, water, energy, and biological resources to provide an adequate supply of food while maintaining the integrity of our ecosystem. According to the World Bank and the United Nations, from 1 to 2 billion humans are now malnourished, indicating a combination of insufficient food, low incomes, and inadequate distribution of food. This is the largest number of hungry humans ever recorded in history. In China about 80 million are now malnourished and hungry. Based on current rates of increase, the world population is projected to double from roughly 6 billion to more than 12 billion in less than 50 years.”

True, this may sound highfaluting but this is the reality. Each day, we count how many children will be born with a dim future because of lack of proper information that every woman has a choice.

Our women and even their husbands or partners can still do something by deciding to limit or space pregnancies. Access to voluntary family planning and reproductive health services are readily available in government agencies like Department of Health (DOH), Commission on Population (POPCOM), service health providers in barangays or municipalities and other partner non-governmental organizations (NGO’s).

A growing population has already become alarming but if population will continue to grow significantly, the effect will be devastating.
Imagine when every person is fighting for the most basic need according to Maslow’s hierarchy which is food. It already happened in China and other parts of the world.

In our country, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) reported in 2006 that 33 out of 100 Filipinos are poor. The severity of poverty in the Philippines needs no photos to show anybody.

“Res ipsa loquitor.” Indeed, one can just take a jeepney and see the shanties mushrooming near the rivers, creeks or just about anywhere. Malnourished children would play along the road like it was their playground.

In some depressed communities, there is only one well where everybody can get water in order to bathe, drink and wash clothes. Worse, in this day and age of civilization, there are still rural and far-flung areas where they have to walk miles in order to get water.
Children have to stop studying or be told not to study at all because there is just not enough money to spend. Some are pushed by their own parents to work.

Four years ago in Brgy. San Jose, Arevalo, Iloilo City, the Educational Research and Development Assistance (ERDA) Foundation adopted some children who used to be child labourers to be their beneficiaries. This program by ERDA is commendable.
ERDA has over 19,000 beneficiaries enrolled in different levels of education all over the country. Its programs enlist school dropouts, child scavengers, street children, out of school youth, child laborers, children in conflict with the law, children of persons afflicted by leprosy and children of indigenous people. ERDA’s educational assistance programs are available from pre-school up to college. Since its inception, ERDA has come to the aid of over 600,000 indigent children all over the country.

ERDA gives free uniform and school supplies to their beneficiaries as well as miscellaneous fees for elementary and high school students who used to be children working in hazardous fireworks factory in Arevalo.

Barangay Health Woker (BHW) Anabelle Indencio and Barangay Nutrition Scholar (BNS) Noreen Abada share that there are many communities with malnourished children because of poor health practices in the areas of these affected children.

Indencio futher explains that the problem is the congestion and the over-crowdedness of the houses which makes it dangerous to public health especially to children.

Abada on the other hand expressed that there are only 9 malnourished children in Brgy. San Jose at the moment. This is because they closely monitor the children weighing them if they have the expected weight according to their age. But she said that it is also difficult to expect that because these children come from poor families and they do not get the proper nutrition from their food intake.

There is still time to act. Empowering our women that spacing and limiting pregnancies is a good choice is the first step if our women want to do their share.

Public Well

Public Well

Oblivious to life's harsh reality

Oblivious to life's harsh reality


Thailand’s Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant

Thailand’s Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant
By Rhea B. Peñaflor
(February 7, 2008, Iloilo City, Philippines, The News Today)

Philippine non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) can learn from Thailand’s Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant (C & C).

The Philippines, known to have citizens who appreciate good food and good service can actually follow the business model pioneered by Population and Community Development Association (PDA).

PDA’s creation of the Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant, one of the most famous restaurants with a branch located at Sukhumvit Soi 12, Bangkok, Thailand was conceptualized in part to promote better understanding and acceptance of family planning and to generate income to support various development activities of the PDA.

A visit to this unique restaurant would make one think of the Latin maxim, “Res ipsa loquitor”. Indeed, the restaurant speaks for itself. Its advocacy is geared towards HIV/AIDS education and one of which is condom use in order to prevent not only the proliferation of HIV/AIDS but on the onset, sexually transmitted infections.

A souvenir shop with handicraft items and accessories advocating condom use and HIV/AIDS awareness, a billboard of clear stickman pictures on how one gets infected with HIV/AIDS and dozens of different kinds of condoms in a box with Democrat and Republican size will greet guests before going to the restaurant.

It is one of a kind restaurant and its income contributes to Thailand’s rural development, education and scholarships, HIV/AIDS education and environmental protection.

In parallelism, in Region VI alone, the Commission on Population has always been aggressive with its Adolescent Health and Youth Development Program (AHYDP). Trained peer counselors have counseling-on-air radio programs, “Tingog Sang Pamatan-on Sa Hutik Sang Kagab-ihon” (Voice of the Youth in the Whispers of the Night) aired over Bombo Radyo, Philippines and “Lamharon” (The Adolescent) aired over DYLL, Radyo Ng Bayan.

These are not enough medium to reach out a mass audience and so these trained peer counselors reach their co-peers through symposia in their schools, universities and even communities. There are also many instances where these symposia are conducted solely for the parents, guardians or teachers for them to have better understanding in handling adolescents.

Advocating a healthy sex lifestyle among adolescents has never been easy. It has been a step by step leap trying to educate everybody in whatever medium, be it in radio or by word of mouth or simply by speaking in front of a large audience.

POPCOM’s Regional Youth Coordinator Angie Tanongtanong for several years now have been very supportive in advocating the AHYDP. POPCOM Regional Director Vicente “Bugoy” Molejona also shares the same sentiment. But again, this is not enough.

POPCOM is a government agency. Its mandate is not aimed for business or profit. It would not look good to have a proprietary function. It can only do so much. But NGO’s here can sustain their projects by following the C & C Restaurant’s business model. Or at least, NGO’s here can take a time off and just even look at it, consider this kind of business model.

It could work.

After all, there is no harm in trying.


Kabataang Gabay Sa Positibong Pamumuhay (KGPP), Inc., an aggressive youth-led NGO

Kabataang Gabay Sa Positibong Pamumuhay (KGPP), Inc., an aggressive youth-led NGO
By Rhea B. Peñaflor

(Note: This article was published in the Advocacy July issue of Mezzo, a lifestyle magazine in Western Visayas)

Kabataang Gabay Sa Positibong Pamumuhay (KGPP), Inc. started as a Pag-asa Youth Association of the Philippines (PYAP) Chapter under the DSWD in 1998 and became a youth-led NGO in 2004.

Since then, KGPP has been actively committed in its advocacy where young people themselves are the ones guiding their fellow youth.

Named “Most Outstanding Youth Organisation in the Country” in the year 2003 for Iloilo Chapter and 2009 for Negros Chapter by the TAYO and bagging the National Coke Barkada Award in 2008, KGPP’s major thrusts include:
1. Adolescent reproductive health and family planning among unwed, cohabiting and parenting teens;
2. STI and HIV prevention, case finding, treatment access and care among at-risk and vulnerable children and youth and young people living with HIV;
3. Peer-learning systems in highly exploitative environments, workplaces and risk spaces; and
4. Youth leadership and social entrepreneurship among emerging young leaders from disenfranchised voices (street children, prostituted women, PLHIV, indigenous peoples, children born out of prostitution and among other stigmatised circumstances.

With the vision that a self-sufficient young people who in their own strengths are able to address their own risks and vulnerabilities, thus, raising their own levels of aspirations and translating own dreams into small but determined actions toward development of self, family, community, country and humanity, KGPP likewise facilitates in revealing and harnessing inner strengths and resources and develop these into knowledge tools to stimulate self-sustaining change among individuals, peer-groups, families and communities.

1. Community organizing through reaching out and organizing at least 12 most-at-risk and vulnerable groups of children and young people every year.

2. Development of capacities for behavior change for at least 60 peer educators every year and installation of peer education systems in at least 10 communities and high-risk environments in Western Visayas.

3. Facilitate government ownership and stakeholders accountability through the strengthening of at least 6 Barangay Council for the Protection of Children every year.

4. Influence evidence-based policies and programmes informed by local experiences and realities of children and young people through 12 local policy champions every year.

KGPP’s past and current projects include “HIV prevention” funded by the UNICEF, treatment access and care for PLHIV funded by the Global Fund Round 5, “Drug Abuse Prevention” funded by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and “Art Therapy and Peer Mentoring” funded by Starbucks International through International Youth Foundation.

KGPP Executive Director Pierremont Montilla shares, “My work in KGPP and advocacy led me to be reunited and reconciled with my family. I organized KGPP as an avenue to heal my wounded childhood. After 15 years of hatred and indifference, I finally reconciled with them this year. It was a process but I feel light and at peace now. Thanks too to KGPP.”

Indeed, those who have passion in working and understanding street children, children of prostituted women, people living with HIV and other underserved and disenfranchised young people has the chance to become KGPP volunteers and international contacts. As volunteers, they can benefit in becoming facilitators, trainers and pool of counselors who have the chance to be catalysts for change.

KGPP can reached through email at or office number +63 33-3212028.


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