mata.roderickORMOC CITY – Roderick Mata’s sad face turned into smiles when he held copies of birth certificates of his three children, whose births were all attended by his own grandma, a lay midwife for four decades.

Mata was not only grateful for the free documents, but for saving P40 fare to get to the city center, approximately 16 kilometers from Curva, a sleepy farming village in this city of nearly 200,000 population.

The 33-year-old dad only finished second grade while his wife, Aiza never made it to secondary school, but their dream for their three children is to complete tertiary education, an achievement that would improve their living condition.

It’s like a big celebration for Mata to have copies of certificates of live birth from the local civil registrar for Riza Mae, 5; Renante, 3; and one-month-old Raymond. Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS) community organizer Joecel Sausa personally delivered the document to Mata.

The family’s vital documents were all lost when super typhoon Yolanda razed their makeshift house to the ground. They are now living in their relative’s house.

“These documents bring peace of mind to me, especially that our eldest kid will go to school this school year,” said Mata, whose P2,000 income from hard labor bars him from processing civil registration of his children.

The family’s long practice of late registration has been passed through generations. The birth of his father, mother and twelve brothers and sisters were all attended by a hilot or traditional midwife.

In fact, Mata’s grandma, Corazon Rom, 80, is a known lay midwife in their village. She offers the childbirth care service for free, making the service more convenient to poor families.

Rom must not be the only hilot in this first class city in Leyte province. In the advent of industrialization, better road networks and improved transportation system, the traditional birth delivery method still exists, a local official confirmed.

“It’s now 2014 and almost every month, we still register children whose births were attended by hilots. I believe this is one reason why many births in Ormoc City are not registered on time,” said Archilles Silva, city civil registrar.

This city is one of the 20 local government units in Eastern Visayas covered by mobile civil registration project (MCRP) led by IDEALS, a non-government organization advocating for legal assistance in the aftermath of crisis.

IDEALS, primarily supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, pushed for MCRP believing that the loss of identification documents has adverse impacts to the ability of family-victims and survivors to access benefits and legal claims that they are entitled to obtain after Yolanda.

Free birth certificates relieves young dad

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