Press Release
August 19, 2023

Senator Pia brings breastfeeding advocacy to Siargao's coastal communities

In line with August as Breastfeeding Month, Senator Pia S. Cayetano brought her breastfeeding advocacy to two coastal towns in Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte this week.

Siargao is renowned worldwide as the Philippines' surfing capital in the south. The tourist attraction is also home to the Siargaonon, residents of the island who mostly rely on tourism, agriculture, and fisheries for their livelihood.

On Tuesday (August 15) and Thursday (August 17), Cayetano's Team Pinay In Action (PIA) conducted community seminars on breastfeeding and maternal and child healthcare in the municipalities of Dapa and General Luna, respectively.

Participants of the seminars included groups of mothers, including pregnant women, and community health workers and volunteers.

The two localities, led by Dapa Mayor Elizabeth 'Abeth' Matugas, and General Luna Mayor Sol Matugas, expressed their gratitude to the senator for recognizing the health needs of mothers and their children in rural coastal communities.

"I'm very very thankful kay Senator Pia Cayetano na nagpadala sya ng team dito para sa programa n'ya sa first-time mothers, yung mga nagbe-breastfeed, barangay health workers, at nutrition scholars. Kailangan nila ito," said Mayor Abeth.

"Alam mo ito (Siargao) ay isang isla, which is separate. 'Pag may bumisita, excited sila, tsaka yung pagkakataon na ma-express nila anong problema nila. Mayroong senador na concerned, malaking bagay na yan talaga sa kanila," she added.

For her part, General Luna Mayor Sol Matugas emphasized the importance of educating mothers on proper healthcare and nutrition to expand their knowledge from traditional beliefs.

"I'm so happy that Senator Cayetano sent her team here to help our mothers in understanding the importance of breastfeeding," said Mayor Sol. "Mabuti yung advocacy ni Senator Pia kasi importante ang mga mothers. But I'm not saying that fathers are not important. But if you think of the risk of giving birth, and raising children to be healthy, you have to be conscious and concerned for their (mothers) health."

Added Mayor Sol: "It is a concern for me if they don't believe in the power of breastfeeding. Magastos 'yung milk formula. It will drain their budget everyday. Kailangan they should have this breastfeeding."

Meanwhile, municipal health officer Dr. TJ Manalang said Cayetano's breastfeeding advocacy is very much aligned with General Luna's 'First 1,000 Days' program that seeks to resolve severe malnutrition among very young children.

"Exclusive breastfeeding is very in line sa mga ginagawa namin, kasi isa sya sa mga nakikita naming tulay para talaga maging malusog ang mga bata," he explained.

Dr. Manalang, who is also part of the Department of Health's Doctors to the Barrios program, says the local government's aim to uplift the health and nutrition of young children has yielded positive results in recent years.

"Senator Pia, maraming salamat sa pagdalaw [ng team n'yo] dito sa amin. Napakalaking tulong nito sa ongoing programs, kasi gusto naming tulay itong breastfeeding para sa mas matatangkad, mas matatalino, at mas may kakayahang mga bata na taga General Luna," he said.

In a video, Senator Cayetano relayed her personal message to the mayors, mothers, healthcare workers and volunteers in Siargao.

"Napaka-importante ng breastfeeding. Yan ang unang-unang panlaban ng ating mga anak sa mga sakit at kontra malnutrisyon. It's so important for me na ma-empower natin ang mga nanay. I'm a mother at alam ko na priority natin ang kalusugan ng mga anak natin. So importante na alam natin kung ano ang magagawa natin para sila ay maging malusog - at number one dyan ay ang breastfeeding," noted Cayetano.

"Pero para magawa n'yo yun? Dapat din talaga na alagaan n'yo ang sarili n'yo. Kaya sabihan n'yo ang asawa n'yo huwag kayong ii-stress. Kailangang malusog din kayo at maayos ang kinakain. Kahit kayo'y tipid na tipid na sa budget, yung pagkain ng sariwang gulay malaking bagay na po yun," continued the senator, who is principal author and sponsor of the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2010 (RA 10028).

She concluded by thanking the municipal mayors for their partnership, and to the healthcare personnel, Barangay Health Workers and Barangay Nutrition Scholars for their invaluable service to the community.

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