Celebrating the Rights of a Child at "Batang Kapat-Dapat"

How much do Pinoy kids nowadays know about their rights? I remember that it was one of the lessons I taught my first-grade students back when I was still teaching. But do children really get to understand and remember them?

This is why I was so happy to discover the book, Karapat-Dapat, wirtten by May Tobias-Papa with artworks by Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang INK), and published by the Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (CANVAS) and Ang INK in 2018. The book depicts the United Nations (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.

I was invited last November 20, 2019 to the Batang Karapat-Dapat mini-festival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Coincidentally, that day was also the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. What better way to commemorate that day than to treat Pinoy schoolchildren to various exciting activities!

The CCP Arts Education’s Batang Sining, Sining Alamin, and Ang INK conducted dance, art, theater, and music workshops for children. The kids also learned about their rights as children – to play, to learn, to be healthy, to grow, and be nurtured in a safe environment and many more, from the Karapat-Dapat multi-arts workshops. CANVAS gave away 250 books daily. Students from public elementary schools in Manila city and CAMANAVA areas, and children orphaned by the war on drugs were just a few of the beneficiaries.

Attendees of the inaugural day were also treated to the presence of some members of the cast of popular children’s television show, Team Yey. The crowd squealed in delight as Yesha Camile, JM Canlas, and Xia Vigor danced, accommodated selfies, signed books, and shared words of wisdom on how to be “the best every day in your own way”.

“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,” explained Gigo Alampay, founder and executive director of CANVAS.

A storytelling collaboration performance entitled Mga Kuwentong Karapat-Dapat was held. The performance showcased three CANVAS-published books read by Abner Delina Jr. also known as Kuya Fidel in the Batibot revival. The audience viewed images of a happy home from Anino Shadowplay Collective’s interpretation of Tahan na Tahanan. The message of Nadia and the Blue Stars which depicted the role of society and importance of hope, was communicated through dance by Daloy Dance Company. Anima Tierra told the environmental tale of Inang Kalikasan’s Bad Hair Day through its percussive beats and enchanting vocals inspired by traditional music all over the world.

Honestly, I didn't expect much from the storytelling session because I thought it would be one of the many storytelling sessions I have already witnessed but the whole performance left me in awe! It got me too engrossed that's why I was only able to shoot on video the 2nd story, LOL!

“Along with CCP and BLACK CANVAS, a multi-arts network of creative collaborators, 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,” Alampay shared.

Aside from the artists, Batang Karapat-Dapat was made possible through the support of UBS and Direct Aid Program (DAP) of the Australian Embassy of the Philippines, Save the Children Philippines, and The Araneta Foundation.

To learn more about the book, Karapat-Dapat and other activities of CANVAS, please visit www.canvas.ph.

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