The architect’s stake in the global breastfeeding advocacy
August 2019 officially marked the month-long annual celebration of World Breastfeeding Awareness Month. The renewed medical interest in traditional breastfeeding is a worldwide pediatric health care phenomenon, encouraging and advocating for natural breastfeeding among mothers and women, and promoting the health benefits for infants and young children.
This is true also in the Philippines, where the Department of Health and World Health Organization both strongly campaign for natural breast milk feeding over the use of commercial and formula milk.
Last May 31, 2019, then-District Director architect Maria Carmen Yatco and Deputy District Director architect Reginald Yaneza, (that’s me by the way) of the United Architects of the Philippines Regional District A-5 (UAP RDA5), jointly signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Arugaan through its Executive Director Maria Ines Avellana Fernandez.
The MoU-signing was witnessed by then-Vice President for Area A architect Rosario Roxas, District Secretary architect Richard Pamplena and no less than UAP National President architect Benjamin Panganiban Jr. The MoU defined the extent of the partnership and engagement UAP RDA5 and Arugaan will have.
Arugaan is a pioneering nongovernment organization in the breastfeeding movement in the Philippines since 1981. It provides a support system for working women with infants and young children. The word “arugaan” in Filipino means full nurturing with lifetime commitment. Fernandez was awarded as Ashoka Fellow in 2015 and, through Arugaan, has continued to undertake Bottle-to-Breast Relactation Management Programs.
In 2010, United Nations International Emergency Fund funded Arugaan’s innovative community-based program — a relactation intervention project for some 3,000 mom-baby pair survivors of typhoon “Ondoy.” Fifty-two breastfeeding counselors and wet nurses joined Arugaan’s emergency team. Arugaan also undertook projects funded by the World Health Organization Regional Office on Breastfeeding Rescue and Life Skills for survivors of typhoon “Haiyan” in Leyte and Samar Islands, covering 6,410 mom-baby pairs.
On May 16, 20 and 29, days prior to the MoU-signing, UAP RDA5 met with various local government unit officials, including Councilor Jesse Cruz of Mandaluyong City and Councilors Charlie and Keith Peralta of San Juan City. The organization also did successive ocular site inspections of the existing barangay (village) breastfeeding stations in Baranagay Hulo and Barangay Old Zaniga, both in Mandaluyong City. The goal output from the exercises was to develop model stations and from there, draft and contribute design guidelines in aid of city legislation and possibly for inclusion to Batas Pambansa 344, or the “National Building Code,” later on.
Last August 25 to 28, UAP RDA5, also in cooperation with Arugaan, made the bold move of deploying a formidable five-member delegation to the Second Regional Breastfeeding Conference in Malaysia. The delegation consisted of myself, Yatco, Rizal-Kalayaan 100 Chapter President architect Dong-Hun Lee, Pasig Chapter President architect Michael Alexis Rayo and San Juan-Mandaluyong Chapter President architect Richard Pamplena.
They represented all the 11 chapters of UAP RDA5 and Team Philippines, along with Arugaan’s own delegation of doctors and health advocates from the Philippines. UAP RDA5 is comprised of UAP chapters Rizal-Taytay, Pasig, Marikina, San Juan-Mandaluyong, Greenhills, Rizal-East, Rizal-Kalayaan 100, Rizal-Cainta 101, San Juan-Pinaglabanan, California 116, and South California. It was awarded last April 2019 as UAP’s Most Outstanding District for Fiscal Year 2018-2019.
The event was a four-day conference at the Cyberjaya University-College of Medical Sciences in Selangor, Darul Ehsan, Malaysia. It was attended by various diplomats, dignitaries, government leaders, members of the academe, medical practitioners and health professionals from around the globe. Delegates were from participating countries United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, Turkey, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Bhutan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Notably present at the event were Cyberjaya University-College of Medical Sciences Faculty of Medicine Dean Maj. Gen. Professor Dato Dr. Mohd Zin Bidin and Malaysia’s Secretary General for Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development Dato Junaidah binti Kamaruddin.
Yatco and myself were given the very rare privilege to present in the conference UAP RDA5’s “Adopt-A-Barangay: Breastfeeding-friendly Station CSR Project in the Philippines.” We introduced UAP as being the premier professional organization from the Philippines, which is heavily invested in corporate social responsibility and sociocivic works. We showed the current condition of the existing breastfeeding facilities in case models Barangay Hulo and Barangay Old Zaniga. We also showed the close collaboration between UAP RDA5 and the local government unit heads of Mandaluyong City for the joint undertaking.
At the plenary welcoming and opening ceremonies, Yatco and myself presented the proposed designs for the two breastfeeding-friendly barangay model stations, as well as photos of the fabricated prototype of Arugaan’s Emergency Breastfeeding Tent. We also presented the designs for the breastfeeding and lactation furniture.
The presentation was very warmly received, with Siti Norjinah Moin, one of the event’s main organizers, saying “Fantastic presentation! Thank you so much for sharing!” We replied: “For any and all of your architectural plans and design requirements, do engage the professional services of only duly licensed architects. Get an architect.”
On the sidelines of the conference, UAP RDA5 delegates managed to have an architectural tourism educational tour of Kuala Lumpur (KL), timed with the upcoming Hari Merdeka (Independence Day) celebration. They visited places of cultural interest and of national pride like the famous Petronas Twin Towers, Bukit Bintang CBD, Brickfields-KL Central, Hindu Batu Caves, the Perdana Botanical Gardens, Planetarium Negara, Masjid Negara and Muzium Negara.
Earlier in the visit, District Director of UAP District B3 and past president of UAP Kuala Lumpur Chapter architect Justo Santos, toured them around KL City, took them out for dinner and brought them to the old KL Federal Hotel for a night of music.
Arranged for RDA5 is a courtesy visit at the national headquarters of Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia (PAM) in Jalan Tandok, Bangsar. Architect Becca Rellosa, chairman of UAP Committee on International Conventions, coordinated with the PAM secretariat to have the UAP RDA5 delegates accommodated and toured around the facility.
Architect Emmanuel Canlas, founding and president of UAP KL Chapter, and UAP’s link to PAM, generously hosted for UAP RDA5 an architectural heritage tour of the historical Dataran Merdeka Square, where the more than a hundred-year-old original Moorish and Moroccande signed buildings stood, and whose past massive restoration works he was a big part of.
The KL trip was a dream mission undertaking for UAP RDA5 that came true so that the professional organization may be represented in the best possible and most honest light before an international audience. It supports UAP National’s corporate theme “United, Able, and ProActive,” and heeds its marching call to promote the profession, and make the organization and the profession positively known to the general public.
The event aimed to uplift both locally and internationally the value of the Filipino architect, and his vital role in community development, nation-building and global health care.
The writer is the current Regional District Director of United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) Regional District A-5, and a past chapter president of UAP Rizal-Kalayaan 100. He is a licensed architect, a CSE professional, and a licensed real estate broker. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Santo Tomas. He is currently a full-time design manager for real estate developer Joy Nostalg Group-Ortigas.
ARCH. REGINALD TEODORO YANEZA
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