Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ana Santos: On the Field, On Sex and Sensibilities

This is supposed to be the first post I should have written in this series for last year's 1st Health Bloggers Meet - Kapit-bisig para sa Kalusugan Pangkalahatan: Iulat, Ipahayag, at Isulong, a collaborative effort of The Philippine Health Bloggers Society, International Youth Council Pilipinas and HealthActivist.ph.


Unfortunately, I think I'm the type who can only write about stuff in the order that they are presented or experienced. I'm organized that way and that's generally how I'm able to translate my thoughts unto words or paper. It's like my memory works on a first-in, first-out system.

Anyway, during that event, three speakers were the last to share their experiences and tell us about their advocacies. One of the speakers was Ms. Ana Santos and I am going to share some of the eye-opening things I learned from her that day. (She is the one sitting on the leftmost side in the picture below. I apologize for the image. I know this is an unflattering picture but I was intent on listening to the speakers so this was the only picture I was able to get.)

A little about her first. She is a journalist who is experienced in disaster reporting. She has written articles which appeared in various  international and local magazines. She is the Founder and Editorial Director of Sex and Sensibilities, a website where you can learn about "sex and responsible choice".

The site has also become a resource for answering questions about sex and sexual health that we'd be embarrassed to ask our doctor, or anyone, about. It's also a place to learn about the latest technologies, issues and other news on sexual and reproductive health. So if you're the curious type like me, then go check out her site and start learning.

Now, back to my topic. In her presentation, she shared with us some of what she learned both on the field, while working as a journalist and while working to promote her advocacy.

One of her tips on disaster reporting is that "nothing beats knowing". Just like in college, we should do our research first and know everything we can about the situation before asking questions, or worse, making  judgments. We must uncover the facts first and verify so we can make the most accurate description of the situation. This is especially important if you are reporting about a disaster. The wrong information could cause panic and greatly affect disaster relief efforts.

Another of her tips is to "let the human spirit shine through". I think this is also and important aspect of reporting. To show the efforts already being done to alleviate the situation, based on facts, of course. This also means that we are showing people that there is hope despite the current situation.

She also talked about family planning and reproductive health, her advocacy.

She tells us that knowing and learning about our sexual health allows us to make informed choices. She focuses on positive sexuality and self-identity which is important especially for women who are often victims of sexual abuse. Establishing a firm awareness of your identity means that are less influenced by the negative image of what society portrays to be.

Knowing one's rights to obtaining health care, including sexual health care and reproductive health choices means having better control over your overall health as well as your family's health.

In her website, Sex and Sensibilities, she makes sure that she is able to reach out to her target audience, the youth, by being active in the same places where they usually hangout online. This means that she is actively engaging her community in YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.

She also makes sure that she talks in their language, using words and depicting situations they can relate to. Here is an example of one of the things they post online, usually in an infographic format.

6 things I wish my mother told me about love, men and sex

  • Love is nothing without commitment
  • There is a distinct difference between a good relationship and a bad one.
  • You complete yourself
  • A man is not a financial plan
  • He's a keeper if you can do three things freely and enjoyably with him: talk to him, be quite with him, fuck with him
  • You will get your heart bruised, sometimes broken even. Suck it up.

Lastly, she tells us that the medium is the message. Examples are the posters with the words "Prayer is not a form of birth control." There's also an infographic showing the estimated cost of teen pregnancy, which should make anyone reading it hesitant to engage in anything that might produce babies afterwards. For teens, these kinds of information are helpful in making them realize the consequences of their choices, especially sexual choices.

In retrospect, I realize that being a disaster reporter means that she more than realizes the urgency of aid and the right information to provide aid to the situation. As teen pregnancy and sexual health issues are also an urgent issue in our society, her experience in factual reporting makes her messages on sexual health even more straightforward and may even carry a sense of urgency with them.

She strikes me as a strong woman who has grown to be confident in both her experiences and knowledge. The type of woman whom girls these days should look up to as a role model because of the kind of woman that she is and not because of her pretty face and perfect figure. She is like the accomplished sister we always wanted to become or the best friend we can always count on; a role which I think she and her team fulfills quite well in their website Sex and Sensibilities.

So if you want to know how a strong, confident, knowledgeable and sexy woman thinks (because being intelligent and confident is sexy) and what her opinions and concerns on sex and sexual health are, head on to their website and start learning and getting your own sexy, confident self back.

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