A few weeks ago we received an email from a photographer/film-maker, Peter Carney, who is based in Beijing. He was interested in our work and the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill currently being sidelined by Senators and Congressmen and women. Peter wanted to make a short film on Roots of Health and the RH Bill.
Two weeks later Peter had touched down in Puerto Princesa and started a whirlwind of interviews. We tried (in vain) to get permission to film in the local hospital, and struggled to track down (barely paid) barangay midwives who never seemed to be in. As I sat watching Peter interview our clients I was reminded of the urgent and unmet need for our services here in Palawan.
When the pregnant 15 year old we’d arranged to interview at a high school didn’t arrive, students that had been hanging around quickly called another pregnant 16 year old to tell us her story of unplanned pregnancy. The tears fell down her cheeks as she talked about wanting to give her child a good life, knowing that it would be extremely difficult for her to do so. Roughly 20% of the fourth year high school girls are currently pregnant.
During another interview, this time with a mother of nine in Pulang Lupa, (our first community site), Peter asked what impact Roots of Health had had in the community. The mother replied that the number of pregnant mothers had “minused.” As we struggled to comprehend exactly what she meant, she explained: “Before, you couldn’t see a flat stomach around here because everyone was pregnant. Now there are flat stomachs.”
As I write this Peter is traveling around the Philippines to gather more footage for his RH Bill video. And I am left with the knowledge that at least in some places of the country, flat stomachs are attainable for women who want them.