She has given birth to 21 children

MANGALDAN, Pangasinan - No regrets for Mensita Edano Cera, 56, who could be your poster girl for or against the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill depending on how you view her story.

 

Cera, who has given birth to 21 children, said she could have produced more "had I not gone into menopause."

Only 16 of her 21 children have survived, but she adopted five more and her extended family now also includes 48 grandchildren. Most of the Cera children have only reached high school.

Nana Mensi to her fellow villagers in Barangay Guilig here, Cera lives with husband Emilio, 59, and their two youngest children, aged 17 and 14, in a shanty near a private farm.

Married in 1969 at the age of 15, Cera said she and her husband were aware of family planning programs and contraceptives.

"We never tried any of those; we were not interested," she said. "Although it is difficult to have many children, we do not regret having them. God gave them to us, and we raised them properly."

Their first child, Delia, was born in 1971 and is now 40. The youngest, Carl Edmund, was born in 1997 and is now 14. Cera also bore twins, Jesse and Mary Ann, in 1973.

Five children-Jun, born in 1972; Maribel, 1976; Pedrito, 1979; Marc Michael, 1983; and Emilio Jr., 1984-have died of either accidents or illnesses.

The rest of the brood include Nestor, born in 1975; Melanie, 1978; Marites, 1981; Ricky, 1982; Angelo, 1985; Michael, 1986; Randy, 1987; Gary, 1988; Mariz, 1989; Maricel, 1990; Dennis; 1991; and Jeffrey, 1994.

"Honestly, had I not gone into menopause, I would have probably had more children," she said.

Cera gave birth to all her children at home, first aided by a traditional midwife (hilot) and later by a professional. Not once did she suffer complications.

Her surviving children and grandchildren, she claimed, had all grown up healthy. "They rarely get sick. Even though they look thin, they are healthy. They eat regularly and don't go hungry," she said.

A diabetic, Cera neither drinks nor smokes.

But to Dr. Ophelia Rivera, health officer of Mangaldan, a mother like Cera may be prone to gynecological problems and heart disease. She may also be susceptible to tooth loss and her bones could easily grow weak.

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