Puerto Princesa City; February 14, 2024 – Valentine’s Day took on a new dimension for students at Palawan National School as they delved into PAD-ibig Diaries, a groundbreaking initiative merging menstrual pads with illustrated diary entries to foster open dialogue about sex and relationships.

Four hundred female students from grades 7 to 10 were treated to limited edition menstrual pads featuring vibrant diary entries about the female anatomy, puberty, crushes, as well as romantic relationships, consent, sex, and contraception. 

PAD-ibig Diaries is the brainchild of Black Pencil Advertising and Roots of Health, an NGO working to reduce teen pregnancies and HIV rates in Palawan. Charmee donated 15,500 menstrual pads which students can access through a special dispenser stationed at the school clinic. 

“Our joint goal was to engage Filipino high school girls through private storytelling using an unexpected medium – in this case, menstrual pads,” explained Kat Limchoc, executive creative director of Black Pencil Advertising. 

Roots of Health Youth Programs Manager, Aika Pagusara, emphasized the urgency of accessible sex education, noting prevalent myths such as the belief that jumping up and down after sex prevents pregnancy and that drinking bath soap shaped into tiny capsules can cure sexually-transmitted infections.

The PAD-ibig  launch featured interactive sessions like “Chismis o Check” that challenged common misconceptions about sexuality alongside engaging games that offered prizes to participants. 

“It’s a never-ending process as more batches of teens need accurate information every year. That’s why we love to collaborate on projects that capture the imagination of young people through relatable, non-preachy, and helpful content that urge them to either delay sex or practice safer sex,” she added. 

Roots of Health has been teaching sex ed in schools and communities for the past 15 years while providing free non-judgmental reproductive health counseling and services through two clinics and outreach missions.

“Many teenagers who go to our clinic to avail of contraceptives do so after their first child. It’s sad that they only get to know about contraception after they get pregnant. We work to prevent this by normalizing talking about sex and making young people feel safe to learn about it, so they are ready when they actually do it,” Pagusara shared.  

Despite being deemed as a conservative country, the Philippines has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in Southeast Asia. The Philippine Statistics Authority reveals that one out of every 10 who gave birth in the country in 2022 were adolescents. Former President Rodrigo Duterte declared teen pregnancy as a national emergency through an executive order in 2021. 

The Philippines also holds notoriety as the country with the highest HIV epidemic rate in the Asia Pacific region. Daily HIV incidence increased 411 percent from 2012 to 2023. The latest available HIV data reveals that 32 percent of the cases were of young people aged 15 to 24. Of the 396 reported youth cases, 394 or 99 percent got HIV through sexual contact. 

“The situation is dire, that’s why this is just a pilot. We dream of expanding PAD-ibig Diaries across the Philippines and that other schools are also inspired by this approach,” Limchoc said. 

The PAD-ibig Diaries are also available online at www.ugatngkalusugan.org. A related Tiktok Live program called “Safe Magtanong Dito” will soon be launched through @ugatngkalusugan Tiktok channel.