Her advocacy: Make no mom feel alone
MANILA, Philippines – Motherhood, as they say, is the most terrible and most wonderful experience. For first-time moms, it can be full of anxiety and pressure – thinking about whether you'll be able to raise your child properly. (READ: A new mom's thoughts on postpartum depression)
It has become the advocacy of Nadine Angelica Gadia Casiño, founder of Modern Nanays of Mindanao (MNM), to not let any mother be alone in their journey.
The 27-year-old young mom of two kids from Cagayan de Oro City was the reason behind the 11,000-member mothers' support group in Mindanao.
Modern Nanays of Mindanao advocates for natural infant and young child care which she believes is sustainable and is the best foundation for the child's lifelong health.
Today, Modern Nanays of Mindanao has expanded from Cagayan de Oro City to nearby towns in Iligan and Bukidnon.
An empowered woman
Nadine is a professional care provider. Prior to founding Modern Nanays of Mindanao, she earned her degree in Nursing from Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan and became a registered nurse in 2010.
She defines a woman as a "giver of life" that is made to bear mental, physical, and emotional stress "no man can ever bear." Although innately strong, mighty, and limitless – sometimes, she said, a woman's full potential is not reached because opportunities are taken away by life itself.
Nadine became a mom in 2012 to her first child Raelene Cerise. She pursued her Master's degree in Nursing Science concurrently at the Liceo de Cayagan University.
Becoming a mom did not stop her from earning her degree. In fact, she wore her child to school persistently.
Baby wearing as a practice is nothing new. Traditionally in the Philippines, the practice of baby-wearing usually employs the use traditional malong fabric into a baby sling for easier carriage.
After she graduated that same year, she founded Modern Nanays of Mindanao. When asked about the reason she founded the organization, she said: "...to empower women, and to make more superwomen."
Mom for moms
Admittedly, the force that drove the conception of Modern Nanays of Mindanao are her close friends – Meg and Maple. When they were new mothers, she felt the need for support – knowing what activities and things might be risky for their babies' health.
"We started as a group of friends from college... We all gave birth at the same time so we shared experiences with each other. We found something special with the kind of support we got," she said.
As a young mother, she believed in natural child care – where the mother and the child to stays together at all times. But ultimately, she founded Modern Nanays of Mindanao to support mothers by helping them find their own identity as a mom.
"When you become a mom, you become a new person. What would you want to be as a mom? How can you be that mom? We help them find a reference from the community and share values," she explained.
Through groups they call tribes, mothers share best practices focusing on 3 key child care practices: breastfeeding, babywearing, and cloth-diapering – answers to a baby's need for mother's milk, warmth, and undivided presence.
A woman of action
For Nadine, a woman is "neither defined by how well she cooks nor by how clean their home is, a woman is defined by how she is different."
In her early days leading Modern Nanays of Mindanao, conforming to being the "normal mother" one could expect was a struggle for her. Gathering support from the local government was also a huge endeavor as they were skeptical regarding her group, as she was a young mom at the age of 22.
Despite setbacks, Modern Nanays of Mindanao was active during the time of Marawi siege on serving those affected by the crisis. For more than months, relief packs such as noodles and canned goods kept coming but without any items meant to attend needs of babies and mothers.
As mothers, it was apt for the group to crowsource and distribute malong care packs – composed of toiletries, sanitary pads, baby wipes, baby clothes, and baby diapers.
For her outstanding leadership work with the Modern Nanays of Mindanao, Nadine was recognized as one of Department of Tourism's Women of Significance last year.
"When you do things well and from the heart, people will see it... you will stand out. You can't dim a light that is shining," she said.
She hopes that her work can inspire more women to love being a mother, and being a woman. – Rappler.com