Breastfeeding in public has always been a great deal of controversy in our society. It can be upsetting how people become so judgmental in the choice of the mother to feed her baby. When in fact, I don’t see any problems for people to expose too much skin on wearing skimpy outfits. I mean, come on! Are we really going to belittle moms who opt to do the most natural thing in the world?
It’s just things like this which make me even more thankful to be part of the event Hakab Na! 2014. Hakab Na, filipino term for Latch On, is a gathering of breastfeeding mothers from different key areas in the Philippines, in which participants are to simultaneously latch on their babies to the breast for a full minute. This is in accordance to the regulations of the worldwide event called, The Big Latch On.
The Global Big Latch On is held annually during the breastfeeding week, from August 1-7, which aims to promote, protect and support breastfeeding. What better way to spread awareness about this advocacy than to get together and show the world that this is how it is done, right? It’s just awesome!
It is just the second year for the Philippines to join this activity and I must say, we have really outdone ourselves! From the event held last year, the difference on how the organizers prepared it this time around and how well it was received, is really such an improvement. It was also a nice opportunity for the growing members of Breastfeeding Pinays to once again meet, face to face, and enrich that virtual friendship we all share.
For this year’s Hakab Na! The group Breastfeeding Pinays, spearheaded by no less than the breastfeeding diva herself, Velvet Escario-Roxas (with the help of the administrators of the group which involved mothers and counselors) was able to prepare a half-day program for the participants. The event was held from 9 am to 12 noon, at Philippine Army Officers Clubhouse at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig. As expected, not only moms and babies were present, but also the very supportive dads as well as all the other breastfeeding supporters and advocates alike. Just like last year, there was media coverage too, from newspaper to television. Even though the place was packed, due to the happy hormones of all the breastfeeding mothers present, it felt warm in a different sense. The love for breastfeeding just radiated everywhere.
This was the Program:
|8:30 AM – 9:00 AM||Registration|
|9:15 AM – 9:30 AM||Opening Ceremony– Welcome Remarks|
|9:30 AM – 10:00 AM||Talk 1: Optimal Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Beyond 6 Months of AgeMr. Alex IellamoIYCF Specialist, UNICEF|
|10:00 AM – 10:25 AM||Big Latch On – Introduction and Instructions|
|10:30 AM – 11:00 AM||Simultaneous Breastfeeding (Big Latch On)|
|11:00 AM – 11:30 AM||Talk 2: Breastfeeding Circle of SupportMaria Asuncion Silvestre, MD
President, Kalusugan ng Mag-Ina, Inc.
Consultant, EINC, WHO Philippines
|11:30 AM – 11:45 AM||Open Forum|
|11:45 AM – 12:30 PM||Gymboree Play|
|12:00 PM – 12:30 PM||Free Time|
|1:00 PM||Closing Ceremony|
We arrived at around 8:45 am and the place was almost filled. The registration booth was manned by volunteer mothers, all part of Breastfeeding Pinays. All the participants upon registration were asked to sign a waiver that says you are allowing yourself to be captured on camera, while you are feeding your child. After which, we were handed ID’s and a loot bag, which contained freebies from sponsors as well as a kid’s shirt with a breastfeeding logo, designed by Abie Co-Floreza. Before attending the event, we were required to pre-register and pay a minimal fee of Php 150.00 per mom and baby pair. Companions like Joey were also very much welcome although they had to pay Php 100.00 per head. This is already inclusive of snacks and all the fun this event had to offer.
The place was a lot bigger compared to last year’s venue and it had different booths. There was a booth for lights snacks and coffee, a small Gymboree play area for kids, a David’s Salon haircut area that gave free services for the first 30 mothers to register, a separate room that showcased breastfeeding photographs of Stanley Ong, which was attached to a signature wall, and a lot more.
Photo credits: Aldrin Valencerina of Ingente-Valencerina Photography
After the registration, we were asked to sit on the banig, it is a mat proudly made in the Philippines. Each banig had a sticker which matched the ones found in our ID’s. We were to sit and breastfeed during the 1-minute latch, on these mats, 10 mother and baby pairs, each.
Photo credits: Aldrin Valencerina of Ingente-Valencerina Photography
The program started promptly and in those mats we were seated on, we waited for the cue to feed our babies. The 1-minute simultaneous breastfeeding occurred at around 10:30 am. We were given the instruction to raise our hands once the baby is latched on. This is for the benefit of the daddy volunteers (including Papa Joey) who had to check all the mothers and babies in each of the mat they were assigned to, if all are indeed present, and feeding along with everybody else in that entire minute. We also chanted Hakab Na! altogether while feeding, it was such an amazing experience!
To be surrounded with like-minded people, doing exactly the same thing, is really empowering. I wish we can do this more often. I am just very proud and thankful to be part of the growing community of Breastfeeding Pinays. Just being there to witness the success of the organizers, is so heartwarming too. I can only imagine the trouble they all went through to make this event possible. So to all of you Moms, (and Dads too) Congratulations! for a job well done. We surely hope to be a part of this event again next year, God-willing Matilda is still breastfed then.
More photos are found here:
By Aldrin Valencerina https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1512414242310666.1073741894.1432033153682109
Pre-Event Press Release
Breastfeeding Filipino mothers, families gather for Hakab Na 2014
Breastfeeding is a public health issue. While some mothers say breastfeeding came to them naturally, some found it difficult. In a mother’s most vulnerable stage, she needs to get the best support from the birthing center or hospital to the home, the workplace and within the community.
In celebration of the National Breastfeeding Awareness Month in August, the Facebook group Breastfeeding Pinays (BFP), in partnership with the Philippine Army-Headquarters and Headquarters Support Group (HHSG), will organize a half-day breastfeeding activity called ‘Hakab Na! 2014’. The event seeks to promote the importance of providing proper support to all breastfeeding Filipino families. Hakab Na 2014 will be held simultaneously in Manila, Cebu, Davao, Bacolod and Iloilo on August 2, 2014 (Saturday) at 9:00 am.
Hakab Na! 2014 is held in coordination with the Big Latch On–an international activity where mothers will latch on their babies from different locations around the world. Last year, 14,536 mothers in 845 locations in 28 countries participated in the event.
This gathering in the Philippines is also a much-anticipated meet-up of mothers who have been supporting each other through the online forum since 2013. Breastfeeding expert Velvet Escario-Roxas of Arugaan, together with a pool of breastfeeding counselors and doctors, help members on almost all facets of breastfeeding.
“Breastfeeding is natural but it is not instinctive because we live in a bottlefeeding culture. Unfortunately, for some babies, having no chance to receive breastmilk becomes a choice between life and death. Statistics show that 16,000 Filipino babies die each year because they were denied breastmilk, making breastfeeding a public health issue. ” says Roxas. “Through Breastfeeding Pinays, mothers get to access support from counselors and fellow mothers. We are helping build a culture of breastfeeding one mother at a time, one baby at a time.”
This will be the second year that the now 25,000-strong BFP group will be staging Hakab Na. BFP expects to surpass last year’s record of more than 225 mothers who simultaneously nursed their babies, including 100 mothers in Manila, 90 in Cagayan de Oro and 30 in Davao.
In the Manila event, BFP will also be conducting talks on breastfeeding babies beyond six months and the importance of support on breastfeeding mothers. A minimal registration fee of P150 will be collected for every mother and baby/child pair, which includes a baby souvenir shirt, snacks and loot bag. P100 is charged for each companion 7 years old and above to cover snacks.
Hakab Na will be held in the following venues:
Manila: Philippine Army Officers Clubhouse in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
Cebu: Ayala Center Cebu Active Zone in Cebu City (hosted by the Cebu Breastfeeding Club)
Davao: Stockbridge International School (formerly Tumble Tots) in Davao City (hosted by Breastfeeding Pinays – Davao)
Negros Occidental: Santuario de la Salle, University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City (hosted by the Bacolod Mom and Baby Club and the Institute for Negros Development)
Iloilo: Iloilo Provincial Capitol in Iloilo City (hosted by the Breastfeeding Ilonggas)
In Cagayan de Oro, Mommy Bright Side is hosting Hakab Na 2014 at the Ororama Cogon on August 1, 2014.
Post-Event Press Release
1,772 Filipino mothers simultaneously breastfeed their babies
One Thousand Seven Hundred Seventy-two (1,772) Filipino mothers gathered today in Manila, Cebu, Davao, Bacolod and Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro, and simultaneously breastfed their babies, to celebrate the National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. The event dubbed ‘Hakab Na! 2014’ is organized by the Facebook group Breastfeeding Pinays (BFP), in partnership with the Philippine Army-Headquarters and Headquarters Support Group (HHSG). It seeks to promote the importance of providing proper support to all breastfeeding Filipino families and is held in coordination with the Big Latch On–an international activity where mothers will latch on their babies from different locations around the world.
This year’s 170 mothers overtook 2013’s count of 100 mothers. Hakab Na for Manila! 2014 also featured two learning activities on infant and young child feeding and breastfeeding support from breastfeeding experts.
1,772 mothers, 1,777 babies latched on for at least one minute! The breakdown of this year’s Hakab is indicated below:-
|Cebu Ayala Mall||30||31|
|Cagayan De Oro*||24||24|
*Cagayan De Oro held simultaneous latching on August 1, 2014
A further breakdown of Iloilo for its impressive turnout need to be mentioned. These towns are at the northern part of Iloilo province where Typhoon Yolanda’s wrath devastated 85% of their homes and livelihood. All six towns, excluding the Capital – Iloilo, were hosted by their local health offices under the supervision of the Provincial Health Office in partnership with Save The Children Foundation and BFI.
|Capital – Iloilo||35||35|
The gathering also successfully brought together mothers who have been supporting each other through the online forum since 2013. Abie Co-Floreza, one of the group’s administrators, is proud to see families supporting one another in their breastfeeding journey. “By supporting breastfeeding moms, we are actually supporting the whole family. If a mother succeeds in breastfeeding her child, she has more time and resources for her family,” said Floreza.
Breastfeeding is a great equalizer. Children who are breastfed are all given an equal start at a healthier life because mother’s milk is perfect and complete with the necessary nutrients that a baby needs. – Nina Atienza, mother of 3
This is the 2nd year of Hakab Na, and also my 2nd time to attend it. I will continue to support, promote and uphold breastfeeding until it becomes the norm and a publicly accepted practice. Joining Hakab brings our message more effectively to a greater audience. – Pia Zorayda B. Busiños Home-based mom, Mother of 3
Hakab Na! was a family-friendly and fun-filled way of advocating breast feeding. It was reassuring for me to meet fellow breast feeders and my toddler had a great time with other kids who have the same passion for breast milk. – Lt Col Sharon Suico (Retired), mother of 3, former Air Force pilot
Breastfeeding also supports the Philippine’s Millennium Development Goals of eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, promoting gender equality and women empowerment, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating diseases and ensuring environmental sustainability.
Dr. Anthony Calibo, child health specialist and officer-in-charge of the Child Health Development Division Family Health Office of the Department of Health, lauds the activity. “When mothers gather together and take in their hands the conduct of activities that promote, protect and support breastfeeding, this sends a strong message not just for government but also for health professionals and the milk industry. That mothers, their friends, their husbands know that no infant milk formula marketing campaign will be persuasive enough to change what breastfeeding does to them and their infants.”
Hakab Na is organized with support from Rotary Club of Quirino Manila Central, David’s Salon, St. Patricks Baby, Gerochi Dental and Implant Center, Gymboree Philippines, KAYA Women Empowerment and Support Group, and Smart Steps.