An extraordinary kind of public service: a tale of a nutrition warrior

In a job dominated by women, one man from Lubao town stood out.

His heart beats for public service. While there are many ways to express this passion, he chose a not so convenient and challenging way – that is serving through nutrition.

Nilo Paguio is a barangay nutrition scholar from Barangay Sto. Cristo in Lubao. He is the president of the BNSs in Lubao town and in the entire province. He is also a husband and a father to his only child. With this alone, one can only imagine how he is able to manage his time for his family, doing house to house visits to conduct weighing of children, consolidating reports, attending to seminars and trainings and thinking of innovative ways to generate resources. All these with the end goal of ensuring that no child in his barangay is either under or over-nourished. In short, he has to look after the health and nutritional well-being not only of his own child but of the entire barangay.

What is even more challenging is that as an active BNS, Nilo doesn’t receive salary like that of a typical health worker, only a meager allowance from the barangay amounting to PhP2,250 per quarter. Nilo uses this as traveling expenses whenever he needs to submit reports or attends to meeting at the municipal hall or at the Capitol.

“Despite the minimal monetary remuneration I am receiving, I cannot leave this job because I love what I am doing and I really enjoy doing it,” he said.

In fact, it seems that he really gives his heart out to what he does and is doing his job right because for three years now, not a single child in their barangay is malnourished.

And so, his dedication to implement health and nutrition programs in their community paved the way for him to be recognized as the province’s Outstanding Barangay Nutrition Scholar year after year.

But before he was able to succeed, he shared his fair share of hardships and challenges.

“When I was first appointed as a BNS in 2010, I was already faced with challenges. My predecessor left me with no guide to follow. I was left to rehabilitate six severely underweight and four underweight children and I do not have any idea back then what my role as a BNS is,” Nilo shared.

It was this challenge that pushed him to formulate a plan and seek the help of the Barangay Nutrition Committee (BNC) for its implementation.

“From then on, we conduct feeding, micronutrient supplementation, seedling distribution and mothers’ class. I’m so happy and thankful because my plan proved to be effective. At the end of 2011, we were able to rehabilitate three children. In addition, those who were severely underweight improved a bit then to just underweight,” he said.

Fast forward to 2015 during his first time to vie for the Outstanding BNS, only one underweight needs to be rehabilitated. Until in 2016 up to present, he succeeded in his role as a nutrition warrior with zero prevalence of malnourished children.

Aside from his regular nutrition-related programs, he also innovate projects and activities to help generate additional resources and aid mothers in their livelihood.

“Since I am a tailor, I also teach mothers in our community to sew bed sheets, pillowcases and uniforms so they can have a source of income to buy food for their families. My friends also help me in collecting used clothes from their friends and we sell these in an ukay-ukay. I use the income from these old clothes to buy goods to be distributed to the indigent kids in the barangay,” he shared.

Truly, Nilo is a personification of a true public servant. As he always shares as a piece of advice to his fellow BNSs, they must enjoy and love what they are doing to be good and effective BNS.

“Aside from the core values written in the BNS manual, I have three key values I want to share to everyone. First is the willingness to learn and to share my knowledge. Second is dedication to work and advocate for something. Lastly, you should love what you are doing and embrace it fully. I think this is the perfect formula to champion nutrition in the community,” he concluded. (By Marie Joy L. Simpao / PIA 3)