Women are the toughest people.

Mercy Galang  and Celia Orboc have shown this time and again.

Both in their 30s, they have mustered strength to survive the toughest moments in their life – giving birth to a new life.

mercy capasIn Capas, Tarlac

“Two months from now, I will give birth to another baby, “says Mercy, 32 years old, as she touches her bloated belly.  She now carries her seventh child.

Mercy tells how hard the ordeal is in giving birth to her six children. Yet proud to share her triumphant story every gruesome pain she experienced.

“The ordeal of a pregnant woman starts at the early stage of pregnancy until after delivery. Imagine the discomforts of nausea and vomiting. Moreover, the unsatisfied craving of specific food would make me feel so tired.  As my belly gets bigger, the more restricted my activities are. I could also feel more pains in my body. Giving birth to a new human being puts a woman’s life at risk,” expresses Mercy.

With her six children, Mercy never failed to have her pre-natal and post natal check-ups at the health center. Aside from the vitamins given at the center, she also ate inexpensive nutritious food to nourish her body and the baby like malunggay and other vegetables found in their backyard.

The little angel in her womb also receives the same care the older siblings got from Mercy. This time however, Mercy supplements her diet with milk, meat and other nutritious foods needed to keep her and the baby healthy.

Before, even if she attended regular check-ups at the health center and provided with lectures on what food to eat to keep both the mother and the child healthy, Mercy could not afford to buy them especially milk, meat and fish.

This is how the Pantawid Pamilya Program helps Mercy’s family aside from sending the children to school.

“Ito ang kaibahan ng pagbubuntis ko ngayon kaysa noon. At ito ay dahil sa tulong nga Pantawid Pamilya, says Mercy. This is the difference of my previous pregnancies from the present one. This is because of Pantawid Pamilya.

The Galang family receives P1, 400 cash grants monthly – P500 for health and P300 per child for education. Mercy’s three children are included in the program.

Mercy delivered all six children at home by a midwife but for this seventh child, she plans of giving birth in a hospital.  If realized, Mercy would be making history because it would be her first time to give birth in a hospital.

“Gusto ko na sanang huli na itong pagbubuntis kong ito. Upang maging malaya ang katawan ko para naman magagawa ko na ang iba pang mga bagay na kailangan kong gawin,” explains Mercy. I wanted this pregnancy to be the last because I want my body to be free so that I can do what I needed to do.

She quickly adds, “Gusto ko na kasing tumulong sa pagtatrabaho upang makatulong sa paghahanap buhay. Kulang kasi ang kita ng asawa ko para sa aming lahat.” I really wanted to work so I could help earn a living for the family because my husband’s income is not enough for us.

Her husband Elio, 37 years old, is a construction worker in Manila. He comes home to Capas, Tarlac every end of the month. His employment is not permanent though. When the project ends, he has to wait until the next project.

Elio does not agree on Mercy’s idea to stop getting pregnant after the seventh child.  He still wants to have another baby boy. Out of the six children, only one is a boy and the rest are girls.

Mercy could not ignore her husband’s decision but she is optimistic she could convince Elio to change his stand if the seventh child would be a boy. Mercy could only hope she will deliver a baby boy. She could only hope that Elio would realize that giving birth to a new life is the most painful and risky thing for a woman like her to undergo.

celia banana leavesIn Esperanza, Agusan del Sur

Celia Orboc, 36 years old and mother six children. Now, she is also pregnant to her seventh child.  She also hopes this would be her last pregnancy.

Despite her condition, Celia has continuously engaged in more than one livelihood activity.  Unlike Mercy who still wishes to help her husband, Celia has already been of help to her husband.

The cash grant she receives from Pantawid Pamilya Program has encouraged Celia even more to continue working on her own to help increase their income. At present, she engages in vending viand and other food stuff like rice cakes, and suman.  She is also into hog fattening and shoes repair.

A determined woman, Celia also prepares her falcate tree seedlings to be planted in a one- hectare land owned by her parents.

“Lisod kayo kung di ko maningkamot sa pagtabang sa akong bana kay duna may mga tiyan nga mo liyamar, ang tiyan sa akong mga anak,” says Celia. It’s hard if I don’t strive to help my husband because there are stomachs to feed, my children’s stomachs.

As a woman, Mercy wanted to do things she believes she can do if given the opportunity. The important ones in her list are to care for herself, stop bearing a child, get a job and earn to feed their children and send them to school.

Celia on the other hand has already been supporting her husband and has plan of venturing into native chicken poultry business someday.

Mercy Galang and Celia Orboc are women. They are tough and determined people; willing to do everything for their families, especially for their children.

As women, Mercy and Celia have never given up on life.  They keep life going.   # # # (Social Marketing Unit)