Acting Asia Regional Director and concurrent Country Director for Philippines International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR)
My work in nutrition
I got engaged with the SUN Movement through involvement of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), as one of the founding members of PHILCAN, Philippine Coalition of Advocates for Nutrition Security, Inc. Subsequently, PHILCAN became the secretariat of the SUN Civil Society Alliance, Philippines when it was established. Sometime in 2017, I attended the SUN CSA regional meeting in Nepal, as one of the representatives of the SUN CSA PH. Being with like-minded individuals, the experience and the enthusiasm of the various nutrition advocates got me excited and got me fully engaged with the Asia regional SUN Civil society network. Working with the national alliance, I participated and contributed to the drafting of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN 2017-2022), sharing the work I personally lead; an evidence base model: the integrated school nutrition, which is currently being scaled up with the Dept of Education in the Philippines, addressing school age undernutrition. In 2018, I had the opportunity to be among the global nutrition advocates in a workshop organized by ICAN and SUN CSN in London, discussing advocacy for nutrition and efforts to increase nutrition investments. In 2019 SUN Global Gathering in Nepal, I was given the honor to speak on behalf of the civil society alliance, of our pledge of commitment, as we prepare the road for the Nutrition for Growth summit. More recently, I have shared our efforts in the Philippines in putting the nutrition agenda forward, during the RTD on Building Momentum for the Nutrition Year of Action and Nutrition for Growth Summit.
I came from a caring and health profession. As a pediatric nurse for 8 years, I witnessed children suffering from diseases, and families grieving as they lost their loved ones. I told myself, “there should be a way by which they can be spared of all these pains!”. My experiences, as part of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, an organization that worked on building capacities of the communities to end poverty, provided me the opportunity to do something to help the most vulnerable communities. I believe that food and good nutrition is a basic need thus a basic right. Everyone should have it, to keep us going, to enable us to achieve our full potential (everyone is entitled!). These fueled my passion to advocate for nutrition. It is so sad to see that we still have a huge problem of malnutrition. We need to do more! We need to influence our policy and decision makers to invest in nutrition more, and I want to contribute and make a difference. SUN had provided such platforms where we can bring the voices of the children, women, youth, the small holder farmers and the most vulnerable.
The role of women
“Women nurture life”. It’s a gift and a responsibility, so women need every support it can get to fulfill that role of bringing new life into the world. Nourishing women means nourishing life growing within their wombs. The whole concept of the first one thousand days revolves around this beautiful process. It is the window of opportunity, an opportunity to ensure a healthy, smart and productive human being. This is central to scaling up nutrition.
It is tough being a mother of two and maintaining a professional career. But maybe, women have that skill to multi-task, smart enough to know that she can enjoy both worlds, family and career, but just need some support from family, friends and colleagues. It is really the determination and the recognition that we have the responsibility to give back, to share our God-given talents and skills so we can contribute in making this world a better place. I was blessed to be given that opportunity to be in a position to influence, to make things happen…and am not letting this chance slip away.
We have a lot of amazing women leaders and I believe it starts with somebody believing in their potential. The society, every organization, every community, every family, need to support women’s capacity and give them the opportunity to lead.