A nervous 17-year-old mother of two babies stood before a crowd of pregnant and postpartum teens, some with their own young children, others with their male partners or family members. Her task before this group in the quiet town of Carmen, Bohol, was to share her experiences as a teenage mother and how she came to be an acceptor of a modern FP method.
Renalyn Bagot is the third of four children. Her two older siblings work in Manila, and her younger sister is still in school. She got pregnant with her older child at age 15, when her partner was 17. Before her parents knew of her pregnancy, thoughts of abortion crossed her mind. She was at a loss about what to do and could barely picture her parents’ disappointment that her pregnancy would foil their hopes for her to finish her schooling.
When she was four months pregnant, her mother, Rosita, finally noticed the changes in her body and confronted her. After much prodding and assurance from her mother that she could confide in her, Renalyn relented and finally confessed that she was pregnant. In an emotional conversation, she expressed regret over her mistake and lack of foresight regarding her future. Even as her mother never uttered a word to chastise her, she expressed regret about not listening to her parents’ counsel about doing her best to finish schooling, knowing they had great hopes for her future. In that same converesation, she pleaded her mother to withhold the news from her father for fear of his reaction.
After several months, however, Mrs. Bagot could no longer withhold the information and told her husband about Renalyn’s situation. Both mother and child were surprised by his reaction. He took the information calmly and forgave his daughter. Like his wife, he also expressed regret as to why Renalyn did not heed their counsel. He then asked to be introduced to the father of the baby.
When the baby arrived, she did all she could to be a good mother. She regularly breastfed her child and took good care of the baby. She urged her boyfriend (who later lived with her) to find a job to support them, as Renalyn’s parents did not have much income: Her mother was a homemaker, and her father was a contractual carpenter. Her two older siblings in Manila had raised the money to pay for the delivery of her baby and have been sending monthly allowances to keep the family afloat. Still, what they earn and receive were not enough.
Her partner had difficulty looking for work, as he was then only 17. It was not until a year later that he found employment at a multinational company in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, and began sending money. Even given his meager salary, Renalyn and her partner have contemplated getting legally married as soon as she turns 18.
Renalyn told the crowd how much she has been humbled and said that she had learned her lesson the hard way. She was also pleased that she had never been condemned or judged by the MHO and was happy that she could actually stand up and speak about her experiences.
She said that giving her testimony was her way of trying to redeem herself by telling the other teens to beware about getting pregnant again, as well as to provide assurance that things would be alright soon. She herself hopes to continue her schooling and provide a good future for herself and her children.