03 August 2013: first ever Breastfeeding Mob in the Philippines.
This event was with conjunction with breastfeeding moms in Metro Manila, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Davao and even all the way in Singapore! Spearheaded by the Facebook Group called Breastfeeding Pinays, this event sought to promote women’s right to breastfeed and the importance of providing proper support to breastfeeding mothers. This is consistent with the theme for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week 2013, “Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers.”
(Photo Credit: Mike Alquinto / NPPA Images)
Breastfeeding Pinays partnered with Kaya Women Empowerment and Support Group, LATCH (Lactation, Attachment, Training, Counseling, Help), Arugaan, Newlyweds@Work, Tickled Moms, Davao's Mommy Sense, Cagayan De Oro's Mommy Bright Side, the Bacolod Mom and Baby Club, and bloggers Jenny Ong (Chronicles of a Nursing Mom) and ElizaYpon (The Painter's Wife) in organizing this activity.
About 100 breastfeeding mothers, along with their respective relatives and family supporters, converged at Aristocrat Restaurant at Roxas Boulevard (Plan B from Rajah Sulayman Park, just across the restaurant, due to the heavy rains that afternoon) is one of the key events in the celebration of August as Breastfeeding Awareness Month. This included me and S. How could we not go and do this??? (1) S is a purely breastfeed baby, (2) I breastfeed with no shame (and cover-ups) in public when need be - so no problems there, (3) I wanted to promote breastfeeding through awareness, action and education in the best way as I can, and that (4) something so natural to human nature, shouldn't be considered as taboo - to give time to a worthy cause! Oh, lastly, I volunteered some before-the-event item that would require me to go to the event on that day!
Just wanted to give a run-down of what happened that day...
@2:15pm : We got to Aristrocrat Roxas Boulevard to register/check-in for the event. It was already drizzling by that time and rained harder a few more minutes after. There were already a lot of mothers, babies, kids, families at the venue and were crowding around but everyone was in a wonderful mood inside the cozy restaurant. We were all catching up and introducing each other. It was a huge EB ("eyeball") event for Breastfeeding Pinays, etc. It was wonderful to see familiar faces of Bing, Ting, Velvet, Jenny, Abie, Florde(Liza), and Mec. I was also able to meet other N@Wie moms in the process. :)
2:45pm : We were told to move to a bigger function room from the registration area so we can assemble for the feed. I believe I was assigned to Line A but I don't know why I kept saying Line C. Oh well, it was nice that Jenny was also in the same line so it all worked out just fine. There were too many people already in Line A by the time I got to the assembled line. Can you see me at the back section?
3:30pm : The latching fest started as each lines A, B and C mothers & babies in-tow slowly entered into the breastfeeding area set-up. After all found their places on the floor, Indian sitting positions, we latched our babies/kids and chanted "Hakab Na! Hakab Na! Hakab Na!". There were also mothers and kids that held home-made signs that showed breastfeeding support for all to see. It was a huge crowd of supporters in essence.
Media took full coverage of the entire event from start to finish. GMA7 was the first on the scene and definitely wasn't the last.
4:00pm : Just when we thought that it was all over, ABC-CBN and other media crew (photographers, videographers, writers assigned to cover the event) arrived and we had to do with whatever parents/kids were there to replicate the latchings again. The latching group was smaller but didn't mean that breastfeeding's message isn't as loud and clear as initially done a few minutes ago.
Their tardiness was due to the heavy rains that rerouted most motorists around Manila.
5:00pm : officially signaled the end of the Breastfeeding Mob, especially since the function room had another booking else I believed a lot of the mothers would have lingered on because there was a breastfeeding consultation scheduled after the latch.
As I write this post, I am still recovering from the wonderful experience of Hakab Na 2013 and would like to document some memorable moments ingrained forever in my mind...like: (1) meeting other Breastfeeding Pinays in person, (2) experiencing a good/perfectly timed and repeated hakab/latch from S (with one faking it for the cameras - Oscar gold!), (3) no fuss from S with the noise and crowd, (4) feeling blessed to be around such giving and committed breastfeeding mothers and supportive advocates like Velvet, Jenny, Bing, Abie, Nanay Ines, etc!
I cannot wait to see what this event will initiate with regards to events for succeeding years to be. This will definitely be the start of BIG THINGS for breastfeeding in the Philippines!
Congratulations and Thank You to all the participants at the venue, before/behind-the-scenes, at their own homes and cars who supported this cause in their hearts, minds and spirit!
Media Coverage on a successful event!
24 Oras Cover @August 3, 2013
Balitanghali Cover shown on August 4, 2013
Yahoo She Philippines featured photos in their site here.
Philippine Online Chronicles also did a feature/write-up on this here.
Yahoo News Canada (Yes, my hometown!!!) also featured more photos with yours truly here.
"Filipino mothers nurse their children during the Hakab na! A Breastfeeding flash mob event at the Rajah Sulayman Park in Manila, on 03 August 2013. Around 50 women in Manila joined other breastfeeding mothers in a simultaneous breastfeeding flash mob in key cities around the country, aims to promote breastfeeding among Filipino women as the country celebrates National Breastfeeding Awareness Month and the World Breastfeeding Week 2013."
More press information on the Hakab Na 2013 event...
According to Velvet Escario-Roxas, a breastfeeding guru, friend and one of the administrators of the group, the Philippines still lacks the necessary support and benefits for breastfeeding mothers despite the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009, including implementation of paid lactation breaks, lactation rooms and policies.
“Breastfeeding in this country is a national health crisis,” said Escario-Roxas. “Although breastfeeding rates have steadily gone up over the years through efforts by different government, non-government organizations and medical communities, there is still so much to be done. Forming this online support group of mothers and gathering together is one of our contributions to the cause.”
The activity also aims to remove the stigma of nursing in public. “We want to create a harmonious culture of breastfeeding in the Philippines. We want to encourage mothers to become more confident while breastfeeding in public,” said Benz Co-Rana, founder of Newlyweds@Work, also an online community of parents that promotes breastfeeding.
“To breastfeed successfully, the mother needs a stronger, well-informed support system from the hospital, the home and the workplace," stressed Co-Rana who successfully breastfeed her two children until they were two years old. “This is why for this campaign, we have everybody present, not just the mothers. We have the fathers, grandparents—everyone—to emphasize the need to support the breastfeeding mothers, and ultimately help raise a healthy and happy child.”
Breastfeeding Pinays Facebook Group seeks to address the need for local community support for breastfeeding mothers. By providing easily accessible and proper information to mothers and their support systems, the Breastfeeding Pinays community has become a lifeline for mothers with breastfeeding problem, questions and issues. Trained peer counselors support the community.
In just six months since its opening in early 2013, the community has grown to more than 3,500 members, with more users joining everyday. Aside from online support, members of the community also conduct small weekly meet-ups to hold “hands-on” learning sessions on hand expression, cup feeding and self-lactation massage. The meet-ups also address breastfeeding challenges, problems and difficulties.