Valentine’s Day was celebrated in a different hue when the Northern and Central Luzon Cluster of the Commission of Population launched the 101XSX Campaign in Baguio City this year. On February 14, more than 200 youth gathered at the University of the Cordilleras to learn on the existing issues and solutions available for adolescent health and development.

The day of love rained with the color of fuchsia with students and youth leaders enjoying learning activities and discussions concerning issues and problems being faced by the youth of today.

The Campaign

101XSX: 101 Ways to Become Empowered Youth is a local initiative of the Northern and Central Luzon Cluster of regions 1,2,3 and CAR. The project is a social movement campaign aimed at involving the youth in finding ways to avoid risky sexual and non-sexual behaviors. 101 plays on the idea of “one on one” discussions, opinions and sharing of ideas. On the other hand, XSX stands for “X the early sex” urging youth aged 15-24 to not engage in early sexual activities to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

The 101XSX also wants to draw commitments and actions from youth so that they will be fully involved in self, peer and community development. The movement also wants to urge other youth to mimic actions of model peers through message building in social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The Situation

The campaign is timely to address the current situation of rising early sexual engagements and teen pregnancies in the region. Director Rosa Fortaleza of PopCom-CAR gave this in detail as she presented the results of the 2013 Young Adult Fertility Study (YAFS).  She identified CAR as the number 1 region in teenage pregnancy rates in the country. The Cordillera Administrative Region has 18.4% of women aged 15-19 years old already pregnant. This is the first time in the conduct of the study that the region has become highest in teen pregnancy rates. Also it Director Fortaleza quoting the YAFS reported a higher incidence of premarital sex among youth with 1 out of 3 teenagers already engaging in it.

The study also found that youth aged 15-19 are already highly technological with 78% of youth own a cellphone and 59% of them use the internet. Alarming though is that technology is being used by the youth in participating in risky sexual behaviors such as phone sex and meet ups for sex using text messages.

The Launch

In partnership with the University of the Cordilleras (UC), the Commission on Population launched the campaign together with students and youth leaders from secondary and tertiary schools in Baguio City and Benguet. A group of youth leaders also came from all over Central Luzon to participate in the launch.

The youth participants joined in an Adolescent Health and Youth Development (AHYD) Forum, exhibit and a self-development and awareness activity. Also partner agencies and civil society organizations namely the DOH, UC, National Youth Commission and the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines joined the program by setting up programs and services booths for the youth. Some of the services provided were BMI check, oral hygiene kits, peer counseling, career advice and youth programs orientation.

Also part of the program was the forging of the partnership between UC and PopCom-CAR. The two institutions signed a memorandum of understanding for the implementation of the 101XSX as well as other AHYD programs and services for their students. With the partnership, PopCom-CAR will provide technical assistance for AHYD related programs being implemented by UC.

From here on, the Regional Population Offices shall be conducting provincial and local activities in line with the advocacy. PopCom-CAR is also in the process of creating new media materials such as a mobile application, a new website and animated video to further support the movement. You may visit the PopCom-CAR official website at car.popcom.gov.ph or by visiting www.101xsx.com for more details