How do you explain human rights, particularly children’s rights, to a child?
Explaining a complex socio-political concept is not always easy. Even grown-ups find it challenging to grasp and explain it. What more with children who are just on their starting point in life? But making the children understand their inherent rights is a must.
Although challenging, it is very doable. You do it in the simplest way — through storytelling capitalizing on imagination, through books written in a language they can understand, through performances and arts so they can visualize the abstract concept, as well as through games which make it fun and engaging.
This was the rationale behind the “Batang Karapat-Dapat,” a mini festival focusing on children’s rights. Inspired by a book written by May Tobias-Papa and illustrated by Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang INK), titled Karapat-Dapat, the mini festival celebrated the the 30th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Published by the Center for Art, New Ventures & Sustainable Development (CANVAS) and Ang INK in 2018, the book depicts the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in a way that children can understand. It includes activities such as coloring and drawing pages, mazes and puzzles. It is a must-have for all children 17 years old and below.
“A child is empowered when a child learns that no matter his or her background, abilities, gender or religion; he or she is valuable, celebrated and protected. We hope to build a community of children, teachers, parents and artists to promote a safer, peaceful and loving world not only for kids but for everyone,” CANVAS founder and executive director Gigo Alampay explained.
Attended by schoolchildren from public schools in Metro Manila and children orphaned by the war on drugs, the festival was held on 20 to 23 November at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The four-day event kicked off with different art workshops conducted by the CCP Arts Education’s Batang Sining, Sining Alamin and Ang INK.
They have the right to live with their parents. They have the right to be protected from harm, to give their opinions, find out things and get information that is important to their well-being. They have the right to choose their own friends, as well as their own religion. They have the right to privacy.
Every child has different circumstances. Some kids have access to education, while others don’t. Some don’t get clothes or fed, others enjoy basic needs. Some are forced to work, to fight. But all children have rights, and it is our job to ensure that they can exercise their rights without discrimination.
Understanding their own rights helps to foster respect and appreciation of their individuality, as well as give them profound self-confidence ─ that no matter who they are, where they live, what language they speak, what religion they believe in and their social status, they have rights. Boy or girl, rich or poor, they can exercise these rights.
And they also have the right to see Team Yey, three of the cast members of a popular children’s television show. The young children squealed in delight as Yesha Camile, JM Canlas and Xia Vigor danced, accommodated selfies and shared words of wisdom on how to be “the best every day, in every way.”
Team Yey also helped distribute over 250 Karapat-Dapat books and other treats. The children who received the books donated clothes and other items, which were given to underprivileged children.
The participating children were further treated to Mga Kuwentong Karapat-Dapat, a storytelling collaboration performance based on three books published by CANVAS. The stories went from page to stage with the performance and direction of Abner Delina Jr., also known as Kuya Fidel in the revival of Batibot, a popular children show in the 90s.
The Anino Shadowplay Collective interpreted Tahan na Tahanan, written by Maria Isabel Alarilla-Arellano, with artworks by Don Salubayba. Using lights and images, the shadow group told the moving story about how Tahanan feels when the family living inside him decided to move house.
The Daloy Dance Company communicated the beautiful message of hope through dance in Nadia and the Blue Stars, a book written by Francesca Nicole Chan Torres, with artworks by Liv Romualdez Vinluan. It tells about how a small village torn by wars found hope and happiness through a young girl’s unwavering care for the flowers.
Through its percussive beats and enchanting vocals inspired by traditional music all over the world, Anima Tierra put the spotlight on environmental issues in Inang Kalikasan’s Bad Hair Day. It follows Inang Kalikasan’s search for a solution to her bad hair day.
“Books are given directly to the children. For many of them, it is the first book they can call their own. At Canvas, we aim to inspire in children a love for reading by donating its award-winning books to public schools, hospitals and disadvantaged communities throughout the country,” shared Alampay, who aims to donate “One Million Books for One Million Filipino Children.”
He continued: “We are all familiar with statistics. One hundred percent of children go to elementary school, but only 50 percent finish high school. Ten percent of them are functionally illiterate, meaning they can read but don’t understand what they are reading. We believe it is not enough to learn how to read. If they learn to love book, they can continue to learn whether in school of not. Reading then becomes a life-long skill.”
To learn more about the books, book-giving events, and other activities of CANVAS, visit www.canvas.ph.