April Joy Tabagan – First-Time Parent in Naga City, Philippines

Tell something about yourself, your family background, your education, etc.?

I am April Joy Tabagan, 15 years-old. I have two siblings that are both staying with our grandmother. My parents are separated and I don’t know where they are. My father has another family and I was informed they have two kids. The last time I saw him was when I was 7 years-old. We were all entrusted in the care of our grandmother who provided for our needs from her small income being a manicurist. I left home when I got pregnant. I stayed at my partner’s house in Naga City. His name is Samuel Pantella. He is 17 years-old and is a pedicab driver and does scavenging as a source of income.


What did you want to be when you were a child?

I want to be a teacher. I idolize much my teacher named Julio N. Aborde. He is very kind to us and he knows how to jam with his students. He is teaching so well and I want to be like him. 


What is most important for you in life? What is the happiest moment in your life?

The happiest moment in my life is when I gave birth to my son, Samuel Jr. I was so happy because he is a blessing to me though it’s very difficult now because we don’t have a stable source of income to buy for his needs.  What is important for me now is I can buy his diapers, our food and laundry soap. I also want to finish my studies because I want to provide for the needs of my son. The Barangay is helping me enroll in Alternative Learning Studies (ALS). I am just waiting for my 16th birthday so I can continue my studies.  


Tell us something about your relationship?

I am not yet married because I am only 15  but I am living together with my partner Samuel since last year. I gave birth to Samuel Jr in April 2022 at Naga City Hospital through normal delivery. My son is 4 months old now.

A classmate introduced me to Samuel in March 2021 through Facebook. We became friends and we had a relationship. We were both very happy then. We used to hang out after school at the Camaligan River Park. That park was our meeting place every day at 7 pm. Most of the time I didn’t ask permission from my grandmother. We were enjoying each other’s company but one day we did what is not allowed for us. We had sex once but then I got pregnant. I thought I will not be pregnant that time. My partner brought me to his parents. They did not like what had happened to us because we are still young but they said its already there so they just helped us. We stayed with the family of my partner.

I am not so happy because I don’t have much money. I have so many clothes to wash now but I don’t have money to buy new clothes. As you can see, our house is small and we are all crowded. Currently we are nine living altogether in our small dwelling. I am thankful that my partner’s father helped provide for us here. They do scavenging and drive pedicabs to earn their daily living. But it does not suffice for all the members of the family. Our meal for the day depends on how much they were able to get out of scavenging and pedicab driving. Sometimes my husband gives me 150.00 pesos (about $3 USD) but not daily. It’s not enough. I keep it for my son’s diaper and laundry soap. 
I don’t plan to get pregnant and I hope to have another child maybe after 6 years. But I’m not sure about it yet.  


Was your first pregnancy planned? 

We did not plan for it. In fact, I was already 4 months pregnant before I knew it.  My tummy was so small when I gave birth to Samuel, Jr. I felt sad but I also see it was a blessing that’s why I kept him. I did not think of aborting him.


When and from whom did you hear about family planning for the first time?

I heard about family planning from Melanie, our Barangay Service Point Officer (BSPO) and from the midwife in the barangay during my prenatal check-ups. They gave me something to read about pills and injectables. I also heard from other pregnant mothers who are also having prenatal check-ups in the barangay. Ma’am Joy M of City Hall also explained to me the benefits of using a family planning method. She gave me a leaflet about condoms, pills, implants.


Did you talk to anyone about family planning after getting this information? If yes with whom and what happened? What did you do and why? 

Yes. I shared the leaflet with my partner and all the things explained to me by the BSPOs and midwife about family planning. My partner wants me to have injectable rather than an implant because it has no side effects. I also heard from others that implants cause headaches and other bad side effects.


How did your mother-in-law react to your decision?

She is ok. She said it’s good so that I can finish my studies and besides her husband earnings are not enough to support them. Even though my mother-in-law does not want to use any family planning method because of the perceived side effects. 


How important is family planning to you? 

Family planning is very important to me because life is really difficult. I’m really worried about how to cover my son’s daily needs for a 150 pesos given to me by Samuel. I am thinking to work but I am only 15. I am also thinking to study ALS. But at the same time I will have to take care of my son.


How many kids do you want?

I only want 2 kids


Do you think family planning is important for women and society? If yes, why?

Yes. It is very important because like me I will not be pregnant soon. 


What are the challenges faced by young married women in adopting family planning?

I think the challenge would be the side effects. But so far with the family planning method I am using right now, I am ok with it. I just need to be reminded of my scheduled follow up in the Barangay health center. 


What message would you like to give to other women?

For teens like me, don’t get involved in a serious relationship but rather concentrate first on your studies. It is very difficult to be a teen parent. If you don’t have work, you cannot provide for the needs of your family. 

Do you still aspire to achieve your dreams and aspirations? 

Yes, very much. I want to pursue my dream of becoming a teacher. But, for now I will take care of Samuel Jr. and provide for his needs. I will send him to school so that he will be successful someday. For now, I also want to go back to school. Becoming a teacher is a long way to go.