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Tell something about yourself, your family background, your education, etc.?
My name is Dimple Mae Ferolino. I am 15 years old and 7 months pregnant with an 18-year old partner named Gervie Sumicad. My partner and I only finished Grade 7. We both do not have work and we stopped schooling.
I was abandoned by my mother when I was a baby and left to the care of my grandparents. I don’t know who my biological father is because every time I ask my mother about my father, she refuses to reveal his identity even until now. I only know of his last name.
At 13, my grandmother brought me to General Santos City (Gensan) to be with my mother. While in Gensan, I had a traumatic experience. I was almost raped by my mother’s boyfriend who was drunk. I was asleep at that time and when I woke up, I was no longer wearing my short pants. My mother’s boyfriend was there. I shouted for help and was rescued by our neighbors. Because of that tragic event, I decided to go back home to Dipolog City.
I have seven more siblings with different fathers. One of my siblings was adopted, the other five in Gensan are with their biological fathers.
When I told my mother that I was pregnant over a video call at Messenger, my mother laughed at me. I was dismayed by her reaction because I thought that she will be angry or be sad but she only laughed at me. She didn’t even provide advice or guidance about how to take care of myself and the baby in my womb. I am grateful that the Barangay Health Worker assigned in our area is here to care for me with constant prenatal care and counselling. She makes a follow-up with me, asks me how I am. Her name is Selda Abayon and I call her “Aunty Tata”.
My mother currently is also pregnant with her ninth child by another man. My mother used to work as a dancer in a bar in Dipolog City.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I wanted to be a cashier in a mall. I want to finish my studies.
Tell something about your marriage?
Our union is doing fine but we are having financial difficulty. We are staying in a boarding house with a monthly rent of P400.00 without water and electricity. We are using only rechargeable lamps. As for our water, we are using communal water pump. We are saving up money for my delivery but my partner right now is not working.
As for our daily subsistence, the parents of my partner provide us food. My partner works part-time as fisherman and sometimes as part-time laborer carving tombstone at a nearby public cemetery. As fisherman, he earns P2000 if they are able to catch 20 basins of fish but this is seldom. As part-time tombstone carver, he earns P300 per tombstone.
I decided to live with the father of my child because I do not have a family of my own. My mother now lives in another city.
Was your first pregnancy planned?
This pregnancy was unplanned. We were drunk the first time we had sex. When I was in my first to second month of pregnancy, my partner didn’t want me to continue with the pregnancy but I insisted to keep my baby. He only began to accept and love our baby when I was already five months pregnant. Now that I am on my seventh month, my partner all the more just stays at home and do not look for work.
Last August 9, 2021, I was asked by Aunty Tata if I could speak before youth leaders and city officials at an Early Pregnancy and Youth Summit. On August 13, 2021, I spoke during the Early Pregnancy Summit led by youth leaders and city leadership team for The Challenge Initiative. I shared how difficult it is to be a teen mother, out of school and without work and mother beside me. At the end of my testimony, our city mayor, the city councilor chairperson and the rest of the panelists gave me mama kits and other forms of assistance.
As part of the help and care of the city after the Early Pregnancy Summit, I had my ultrasound today August 20, 2021. I tried saving money for my ultrasound but we could not save up the amount as we have monthly rents to pay.
The moment I knew and saw the photo of my baby, I was overjoyed. I wished for a baby girl. My OB GYN and sonologist told me that me and my baby are healthy. I am excited to give birth. I was also told that my partner will be given work through the city social welfare development so that we could save up for my delivery.
When and from whom did you hear about family planning for the first time?
I knew of family planning through our barangay health worker, Selda Abayon to which I refer now as my Aunty Tata. I knew that we have a barangay health center near our home. Aunty Tata always goes to our area and so one day, I just approached her and told her that I was pregnant. I was then told to go to the center. When I was at the center, I thought I was only going to write my name. But I was surprised that I was interviewed and thereafter a physical check-up was performed on me by the barangay midwife I call “Ate Angging”. She then did prenatal care and gave me vitamins. I was more surprised because the prenatal care and the vitamins were for free.
I was cared for by Ate Angging, the midwife and Aunty Tata, the barangay health worker. I did not feel discriminated or judged because of my situation being a teen mom. I am due by the way in October.
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?
I talked to my partner about family planning. I plan to continue my studies after I give birth, taking advantage that at this time of pandemic, classes are modular and I can study at home while caring for my baby. My next pregnancy will have to be after I am done with my studies and I have a stable job. I plan to avail of post-partum family planning called implanon.
How did your mother-in-law react to your decision?
My mother in law does not know yet about my plan to have family planning though she knows that I regularly go to the barangay health center for my prenatal check-up. My mother-in-law even said that during her time, she did not go to the barangay health center but I didn’t mind her comment. I will still go and have my prenatal because Aunty Tata is also consistently reminding me of my prenatal appointments. I feel that my mother-in-law does not like me but I feel I am welcomed by my father-in-law.
How important is family planning to you?
Family planning is important to me because I want to finish my studies and I want to find my biological father and help my siblings.
How many kids do you want?
I want to have two kids only: a boy and a girl but my partner wants to have five. The next child will have to be after five years or when I finish college.
Have you noticed any changes in the last two years related to family planning information and service availability?
I knew that barangay health center offers prenatal services. The barangay health center is a stone’s throw away from the boarding house that we live in. Our barangay health worker is visible in our area also.
I cannot say if there are changes because only in my pregnancy now that I went to the barangay health center and I am glad I did because the midwife and barangay health worker helped me and guided me. My mother did not guide me at all in my pregnancy now.
Do you think family planning is important for women and society? If yes, why?
Yes, family planning is important because I can continue with my studies. I still aspire to finish my studies. Family planning can help teen moms like me to be able to fulfill our dreams.
What are the challenges faced by young married women in adopting family planning?
No challenges so far because the barangay health center offers family planning methods for free though my partner does not know yet of my plans to avail of post-partum family planning.
What message would you like to give to other women?
It is not wise to be pregnant at a young age without finishing studies, without work, without money. It is difficult to be a mother and “married” at a young age. I decided to live with my partner because I don’t have a family with me now but my advice to my peers is to not have early pregnancy and early marriage because it is difficult.
Do you still aspire to achieve your dreams and aspirations?
Yes, I still want to be a cashier in a big mall and have a permanent job.