At 13, Patrick was already a busy boy.
He spent several hours each day speaking with dozens of girls and boys – some were younger than him, while others were a bit older.
Patrick is an adolescent health advocate.
He teaches his fellow youth in Malabon about puberty, adolescence, gender equality, and child rights. He spoke out at school and in his community.
“I grew up with socially aware parents,” he said in Filipino. “They were community leaders too, advocates like me.”
Growing up with such strong-willed and passionate parents, Patrick soon became a youth leader himself.
“I became a youth leader so I can help communities which I’m part of,” Patrick said.
“For me, the biggest issue in our community is the rising rates of teenage pregnancy,” he continued. “When there’s no proper guidance, that’s what usually happens.”
Now 24, Patrick continues his advocacy.
Teenage pregnancy in PH
In the Asia-Pacific region, rates of teenage pregnancy has been decreasing in the past two decades – except in the Philippines, the UNFPA reported.
In fact, 1 in 10 Filipino girls ages 15-19 is already a mother or is pregnant with her first child, the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey revealed.
“We cannot deny the fact that some youth engage in their first sexual experience early on, however, not everyone will admit that,” Patrick explained.
“So the main point is you always have to be responsible,” he stressed. “Whatever your actions are, you have to know its possible consequences.”
Patrick is among the youth Save the Children trains on Adolescent Health. He shares what he learns with teens in Malabon
In the Philippines, teenage pregnancies can be largely attributed to misinformation.
Among Filipino high schoolers, 78% said they did not have enough knowledge about sex, according to the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFSS).
In fact, more than 60% of Filipino youth across all school levels were not aware of the following facts:
- Women don’t get pregnant at all times during their menstrual cycle.
- Women can get pregnant even if their partner did not ejaculate.
It could be that these teens did not learn enough about reproductive and sexual health at school, and even at home – where different kinds of learning supposedly starts.
YAFSS also showed that 92% of Filipino high schoolers did not discuss sex at home while growing up.
Patrick encourages parents and teachers to be more proactive in teaching the youth about reproductive health as well as the responsibilities that comes with it.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Ignorance can only lead to more problems.
“As a youth leader, I learned to be flexible because we deal with several issues other than teenage pregnancy, there’s also children’s rights,” he said.
“I also learned about] the eagerness to make advocates understand that the programs we’re doing should always be in line with the genuine needs of the community.”
Protect and empower children through education. Prevent teenage pregnancies by openly discussing adolescent health.
Help us train more Filipino youth like Patrick. Donate today, save lives!