Amid the uncooperative weather, Lia and I arrived in a room brimming with excitable throngs of moms and babies. At 1:45 pm, we were an hour and 15 early, but the energy in that one end of The Aristocrat in Roxas Boulevard felt as if it was already the hour of the Big Latch On.
In the next hour, the breastfeeding mob would grow to over 230 – more than 100 in Manila, then the rest distributed across the country and beyond: 90 in Cagayan de Oro, 30 in Davao, 5 in Bacolod and around 10 in Singapore.
|Photo credit: Roy Cornista|
The rain was unstoppable, but so were these moms. Breastfeeding is an all-weather job. This was an event that was born out of passion for breastfeeding. Nobody earned a cent. Attendees paid for their own gas, their own munchies and posters (Some people earned their five minutes of fame, though. High five for that!). As a first in the country, I am so honored to have participated in this love-filled event and wish for more to come.
|Photo credit: Keysi Nunez|
|Photo credit: Ysang Matilla
|Breastfeeding mom Nicole Hyala in the flesh.
Photo credit: Ysang Matilla
While initially set to occur at the Rajah Sulayman Park across the street, the rain persisted and in a snap, we were transferred to the restaurant’s Sunset Room – all thanks to the generous and kindhearted owners and manager of The Aristocrat who closed the entire section for FREE (okay, they were guaranteed 30 paying customers post-event. Still, that’s a miniscule ROI for a hall that could sit about a hundred). Way to go The Aristocrat for being breastfeeding-friendly!
|Hakab Na! organizers (Manila leg) Jenny Ong, Velvet Escario-Roxas and Abie Co-Floreza
with wonderful co-owners of The Aristocrat
Photo by: Liza Bermudez
|Photo credit: Amie Cornista|
I could detail the beautiful, zany chaos of it all: The Breastfeeding Pinay admins who relentlessly worked in ant-like fashion from start to finish; frenzied moms who were starstruck by Nicole Hyala (a Breastfeeding Pinay member herself); a few toddlers who threw temper tantrums (guilty here!); cute kids marching with breastfeeding posters, the charming stage dads who served as their wives’ PAs and photographers; waiters with stack of plates and trays trying to squeeze themselves out of the mob; the glaring lights of DSLRs and video camcorders of several media outfits.
|Photo credit: Amie Cornista|
|Cayagan de Oro mob at Centrio Mall
Photo credit: Meg Gabe
But instead I would tell you this: As the mob – surrounded by people who shared their breastfeeding beliefs – simultaneously nursed their babies while chanting a willful “Hakab Na!”, it was evident that grounded with a mother’s earnest desire to breastfeed and a strong, well-informed support system, no future is ever so bleak for breastfeeding. Its success goes beyond a mother’s choice and ability. It is a concerted effort among all of us – from the media to our respective households. If we worked together, the possibility of a future where the benefits of breastfeeding is the primary driving force toward better nourishment, where no inconveniences in weather, place or time can deter a mother from breastfeeding her child, can become an everyday reality.
|Breastfeeding supporters. Nicole Hyala in center.
Photo by: Amie Cornista
|Singapore mob at Emily Hill.
Photo credit: Escie Sebastian
You can read more about Hakab Na! in the news:
|Five’s a mob. Bacolod mob at Cafe Bob’s.
Photo credit: Jireh Poquita
|Briefing before mob begins at The Aristocrat.|
|Davao mob at The Peak, Gaisano Mall.
Photo credit: Alex Hao
Or you can watch video snippets through these portals: