Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Countries like the United States -- where Pres. Benigno Aquino III managed to play Hewlett-Packard computer games in between his address during the 65th General Assembly of the United Nations and his seven-minute meeting with Pres. Barack Obama -- are anxious about childhood obesity that has tripled in the past 30 years and about families spending a fortune just to spoil a brat who, more often than not, end up as a fashionista!

Here, on the other hand, we worry about the opposite.

Instead, we are bothered by multiple deprivations.

Not only in terms of food, clothing, or shelter but also of health, education, water, sanitation facilities, electricity, and information.

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reveal that 44% of all Filipino children are living in poverty. In other words, 12.8 million children under the age of 15 are poor. From 2003 to 2006, there was an increase of 4 percentage points, or approximately one million additional poor kids.

PIDS President, Dr. Josef Yap, after all is still hopeful: “Because children are most vulnerable, meeting their needs and helping them achieve their full potential is promoting human development and investing in the progress of mankind.” “UNICEF is keen,” its representative, Ms. Vanessa Tobin assured us: “to support a targeted, focused approach to ensure we achieve the Millennium Development Goals by lifting these children out of poverty, and in so doing, we help all Filipinos in building a country fit for all children.”

Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) has heeded that call since 1967.

To enrich and empower everyone, it has been successful in transcending age.

And, of course, race, gender, and class!

It does not limit itself to poor as in the destitute of material riches.

PETA – 13 years older than its namesake, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, that celebrated its 30th anniversary last 25 September via its Humanitarian Awards -- has been extending their help to those wanting in vim, vigor, and value.

Or beauty.

Which is why, its heart is in the arts.

PETA has been actively involved children and youth advocacy groups in the past five years.

With child-focused non-governmental organizations -- connected with urban poor communities, street children, children survivors of physical abuse and sexual abuse, child labor, trafficking, or caught in armed conflict – PETA has been tireless in underscoring the importance of the role of the child in the Filipino family and in Philippine society.

Pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No.267, PETA is having art happenings in the name of Children's Month that ironically opens with the International Day of Older Persons last Friday, October 1.

Last August 26, PETA asked us, to conduct a trainors' training of sorts about writing at the PETA Theater Center. The following day, upon learning about our advocacy, Gail Guanlao-Billones, PETA's Children's Theater Program Director, invited us -- with our wife Ellay and our niece Gayle, our Foundation AWIT, or Advancing Wellness, Instruction, and Talents president and executive assistant respectively -- to The Building Resiliency Forum on 15 October. She expects us to share our experience and practice in working with children with special needs and other differently-abled persons.

Foundation AWIT is indeed honored to play Ding to the unsung Nardas and Darnas -- in Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Sexual Abuse (CPTCSA); Create Responsive Infants By Sharing Foundation (CRIBS); Medical Action Group (MAG) ; Museong Pambata; Philippine Against Child Trafficking (PACT); and PETA's Artszone, which was launched only last 9 July -- to identify commonalities and areas for collaboration in creating modules and activities in their respective centers and communities as well as to activate a network working on integrating arts towards healing. Our kids Psalma, Wika, and Sulat plan to join them on two Saturdays, October 9, for some performances care ofKaibigan Choir, Kaibigan Theater, PETAnino, End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, and the Trafficking of Children (ECPAT), Sali Ka Bata, Teatro Balagtas, Dulaang Agape, or PETA’s Pandakotyong and Batang Rizal. And on October 16, for such workshops as: (a) Ilustrador ng Kabataan or INK's Kulay at Krokis; (b) Kuwentista ng mga Tsikiting or KUTING's Kathang Katawan; (c ) Anino Shadow Play Collective's Anino at Karilyo.

For inquiries, kindly call Anj Heruela at # 0927-3709581 about PETA’s Kayang-Kayang Kabayanihan that also include street painting, art walls and guerilla performances, art mart with books and products for kids, exhibit and sale of Museo Pambata’s Batang Bayani Series, and the staging of Liza Magtoto’s Palanca-winning play Rated:PG.

Last August 5, at Alliance Francaise de Manille in Makati City, Atty. Gizela Gonzalez launched her book Where The Children Are, which is a photo-documentary that features compelling images and stories of Filipino children from different parts of the country. Atty. Ging published two poems produced in Poetry Therapy sessions we conducted with Dr. Grace Brillantes, Aleah Taboclaon, and our son Wika at the Child Protection Unit-University of the Philippines Philippine General Hospital in 2006. And the child poet who wrote great poetry in Filipino actually hails from Cebu where he survives physical abuse. The said publication is reminiscent of Jay Lara and Cathy Paras-Lara's Everyday Warriors: The Faces and Stories of Breast Cancer that won the Gintong Aklat 2010 with Liberato Laureta's Compendium of the Economically Important Seashells in Panay, Philippines; Cecilia Manguerra Brainard and Marilyn Ysip Orosa'sFinding God: True Stories of Spiritual Encounters; Asia Society Philippine Foundation, Inc.'s Kulinarya: A Guide Book to Philippine Cuisine; Elmer Nocheseda's Palaspas: An Appreciation of Palm Leaf Art in the Philippines; Simeon Dumdum, Jr.'s Ah, Wilderness! A Journey Through Sacred Time; Gina Apostol's The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata; Rolando Tolentino's Pag-aklas Pagbaklas Pagbagtas; and Otto Van Den Muijzenberg's The Philippines Through European Lenses: Late 19th Century Photographs from the Meerkamp Van Embden Collection.

Also during the 31st Manila International Book Fair, where the Gintong Aklat 2010 awards rites took place last 15September at the SMX Mall of Asia, Edgardo Maranan, the winningest Carlos Palanca Hall of Famer who is now a columnist too, launched a dozen new works for children. Published by C&E Publishing Company, the 12 titles are: Si Pepe at si Pilar; Pangako ng Bayani; Ang Apoy sa Sambá; Halimaw sa Bundok, Si Kidlat, si Kulóg, at si Kilót;Hagdan sa Langit; Ang Ambahan ni Ambo; Bahaghari; Si Molok at ang Bangka ni Asok; Si Buhawi at si Bantay; Ang mga Buwaya ng Silangan; and Ang Alamat ni Hári Púti sa Buhay ni Búi Bagani.

How we wish the Children’s Month be more memorable and meaningful, sustainable yet less commercial like the well-planned World Vegetarian Awareness Month!

With public and private sectors to make it global as the United Nations Day or national as Buwan ng Wika, we as one must replicate such pioneering Oktoberfest of child-friendly projects as Health Education Congress for Children in Dagupan, Hugyaw Kabataan in Antique or Pista sa Nayon and School on the Air in Davao!

By the way, is our childless president, who cares a lot about his nephews, listening?

Or he is just deafened by the word war, ever-growing even during his First 100 days, between those against and in favor of informed choice when it comes to responsible parenthood or family planning like Carlos Celdran? Or do we really love unconditionally the hope of our country? Ask Jose Rizal.


Q. Which day are there more collect calls than any other day of the year?
A. Father's Day


An airplane on its return flight suddenly encountered a turbulence. Oxygen bags started to be dispensed so all the passengers started to panic. Except for one boy who was playing with PSP. They asked him why he was so calm and why he was not afraid to die.

He answered: “My dad is the pilot.”

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