By Saul E. Pa-a
ANTIPOLO CITY, Rizal (PNA) — The National Nutrition Council (NNC) Calabarzon regional office hosted the 1st Regional Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS) day-long congress on Friday at the Ynares Center here.
Scores of officers and members of the Federation of Barangay Nutrition Scholars of the Calabarzon provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon and the Communicators’ Network for Nutrition in Region IV-A (CNN-4A) participated in the event.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) secretary Sonny Coloma who was earlier scheduled to grace the pioneering event as guest speaker sent in his video-taped message due to a prior Presidential foreign visit engagement.
Secretary Coloma was part of President Benigno S. Aquino III’s official delegation to the Chief Executive’s State Visit to South Korea.
Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Calabarzon Regional Director Norito Cabotaje made the symbolic gesture by introducing the Presidential Communications Secretary as the keynote speaker via the huge video screen.
In his video-taped message, Secretary Coloma praised the thousands of barangay nutrition scholars as grassroots implementors of the government’s nutrition and health programs.
Coloma addressed the huge crowd underscoring “a healthy citizenry and healthy community immensely contributing to a healthy country.”
He lauded the barangay health workers as frontliners into putting premium on “nutrition and health as wealth” for the barangay constituents and for all Filipinos.
Adopting the pioneering theme for the Congress “BNS IV-A, Ikaw Na, The Best Ka,” NNC Calabarzon in cooperation with the PIA Calabarzon regional office forged their alliance with the media groups to promote good nutrition in the region.
Carina Z. Santiago, NNC Calabarzon Regional Nutrition Program Coordinator and also officer-in-charge of the NNC MIMAROPA, said “the theme aims to give honor and recognition to the BNS who are unselfishly serving as malnutrition fighters in the field.
Santiago also said the thematic celebration gives impetus to fostering camaraderie among the barangay nutrition scholars and boost their morale to ensure vigorous fulfillment of their duties and responsibilities to promote good nutrition.
The NNC regional official underscored that the congress also provides BNS with updates and new developments on nutrition to strengthen their capacities in the delivery of the nutrition services.
“This one day event is a historic first when all 4,000 BNS from the region’s different barangays will converge in one affair with the Calabarzon governors and mayors to support their respective BNS,” Santiago remarked.
As early as 7 a.m., BNS and barangay health workers trooped to the Ynares Center for the pioneering congress which saw the enthusiasm of Cavite City BNS association through its president Analisa J. Santos and the Antipolo City BNS association president Rosanna DS Navarro.
Rizal Governor Rebecca “Nini” Ynares who also chairs the provincial Nutrition Committee welcomed the thousands of participants during the opening rites.
Director Nestor F. Santiago, chair of the Regional Sub-committee on Nutrition of the Department of Health (DOH) Center for Health Development (CHD) Region IVA, declared the opening of the first regional congress of nutrition scholars.
Health Assistant secretary Maria Bernardita T. Flores who also concurrently heads the National Nutrition Council delivered her inspirational message.
Karen C. Ballonado, president of the Tagaytay City BNS Association, also expressed the regional BNS Federation structure for the Calabarzon while Jocelyn A. Lumaad, president of Davao City BNS Association elaborated the National BNS organizational framework.
The officers of the provincial and city BNS federations and regional groups later took their oath en masse as BNS federation officers and leaders before Assistant Secretary Flores.
Health Assistant secretary Eric Tayag also underscored the importance of the iodized salt in the Filipino diet while Rex C. Estoperez, National Food Authority public affairs department manager, discussed the promotion of iron-fortified rice (I-rice).
Jovita C. Raval, NNC chief for the nutrition information and education division, also presented the new Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos.
Mandaluyong City Infant and Young Child Feeding Coordinator Dr. Shari Ludovina L. Sabalvaro, shared the city’s and the country’s best practices in promoting breastfeeding.
Proving that they are also models of healthy living, the BNS with the longest services rendered to their respective barangays for 30 or more years also received their awards of recognition.
The first BNS Congress also held its first Search for Ms. BNS beauty title winners that covered two age categories for the 20 to 39 years old and the 40 to 60 years old.
The huge gathering also witnessed the multi-talented BNS performed special dance and song numbers by representative groups from Laguna, Batangas, Rodriguez, Rizal, Dasmariñas City, Cavite and Lucena City, Quezon besides the Antipolo City traditional dance welcome by the host city Dance Troupe.