The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) recently formed a nationwide campaign to address the alarming rate of teenage pregnancies in the Philippines.

Dubbed as “Konektado Tayo,” the campaign aims to bridge the communications gap between Filipino parents and their adolescent children, particularly those concerning adolescent sexuality and development. Formally launched on July 22, “Konektado Tayo” will use Facebook as the primary platform to reach the above-mentioned target audiences and help improve their quality of conversations about love, sexuality, and relationships.

                Since February 2021, USAID and POPCOM have joined forces to develop the Konektado Tayo Facebook page, @KonektadoTayoPH1, which to date has reached over 13 million people and has about 4,200 followers. Most of its engagements come from 35 to 54 age groups—the intended audience for the said campaign.

Along with the DOH, the three agencies aim to achieve “three Es” through the campaign: 1) Encourage Filipino parents of teenagers to communicate with their children about topics on love, sexuality, and relationships; 2) Equip the adults with the knowledge and skills to feel confident about the information they will share with their children on relevant topics; and 3) Enable parents to build their teens’ values and life skills which they will need as they transition to adulthood.

                “POPCOM and USAID acknowledge the popularity of Facebook among Filipinos, which is where most of us connect with friends, families and other people. With Konektado Tayo, we have harnessed the power of social media to reach parents, guardians and children in initiating conversations among themselves,” Undersecretary for Population and Development (POPDEV) Juan Antonio Perez III, MD, MPH explained. “If Facebook is where our young citizens obtain information on almost anything and everything about the world around them, then we made certain through Konektado Tayo that they could  get their initial information on sexuality through reliable sources, with proper guidance and contextualization, within the same platform.”

                The POPCOM chief cited the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality study, which showed that only 10% of Filipino youth reported discussing sexuality in their homes, and that young people are likely to consult their peers for questions about the subject.

In their POPDEV work in the local setting, Perez shared that parents are expected to be the primary sources of information about love, relationships, and sexuality-related issues. However, they are usually uncomfortable and not equipped to discuss these topics with their adolescent children, as a culture of shame and embarrassment in such conversations discourages open and effective communication between adults and their adolescent children. Without proper guidance, the latter are exposed to inaccurate information that oftentimes can lead to risky behaviors.

“With various concerns being faced by our youth today such as teenage pregnancy and lack of education, we believe that Konektado Tayo will be instrumental in teaching our children to develop a healthy self-image, empowering them to think critically, and enabling them to make wise decisions, while strengthening their capacity to do what is right,” the POPDEV undersecretary emphasized. “With Konektado Tayo, parents will never be alone in this endeavor, as we commit to provide our shared efforts in creating strategies and avenues for meaningful dialogues with their children toward their overall development, their families and eventually, our nation.”

According to the DOH, parents play a critical role as main educators in making their children realize and achieve their full potential, so that they can complete their education and create opportunities for a better future. The Health Department underscores the importance of connections among young people, the people who matter the most to them, and those they can trust, such as their parents and mentors. It believes having open, respectful, discreet, and compassionate conversations on sensitive issues such as relationships, sexuality, and sex, by way of “Konektado Tayo,” can help prevent risky sexual behaviors while promoting responsible decision-making among young Filipinos.

“Let us all commit to support our adolescents by providing avenues and platforms for them to freely share their thoughts about their sexuality, sexual and reproductive health needs, and concerns they may have as they go through this crucial period in their lives,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III stated. ###