Listen to children!
“For Every Child A Voice” was the theme of the recent observance of World Children’s Day, an occasion for celebrating children as well as for calling on governments and society to support and respond to children’s needs.
And “voices” the children certainly had. At a ceremony held at the Museo Pambata, 32 children who had taken part in workshops held all over the country gathered to express their sentiments and explain the urgency for a response from adult society to their needs. While a selected few, chosen by the children themselves, were asked to speak on urgent issues, the children also filled up “speech bubbles” where each one expressed his/her feelings. The “bubbles” more than made up for the silence often imposed by adults on young people.
The chosen speakers chose to focus on urgent concerns that confront children in the Philippines today: physical and humiliating punishment (often excused as a form of discipline), teenage pregnancy and adolescent reproductive health, sexual abuse and exploitation of children, and lack of access to services of children from indigenous communities.
Through the years, legislators have worked to pass laws protecting children from all sorts of abuse: corporal punishment, neglect and exploitation, and simply lack of care. But as the speaker on sexual abuse pointed out, despite the 37 laws passed so far against violence against children, “victims are getting younger and criminals are getting bolder.”
Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy, a former congresswoman and executive director of the Council for the Welfare of Children, called for continued vigilance and for the constant monitoring of the implementation of laws on children. She mentioned an upcoming meeting with officials of the Department of Information and Communications Technology on ways to prevent and curtail the spread of child pornography, highlighted that same day with the news that a couple in Iligan were arrested for producing pornographic materials in which their own three children were the “performers.”
Patricia Mae Lopez, chief of staff for the National Youth Commission, said her office was preparing programs to implement safeguards for young people, including hosting regular forums with young people called “Usap Tayo” (Let’s Talk).
Lotta Sylwander, Unicef representative in the country, and who spearheaded the observance of World Children’s Day, said there is need to nurture a “strong and determined voice” for Filipino children so they could “demand adults’ support.”
The children and their supporters then trooped to the Senate where they met with some senators to air their plea for greater recognition from the state not just for their needs, but, equally importantly, for their voice which is too often muted by adults who say they know what children need but don’t care to listen to them.
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The UP College of Mass Communication recently awarded distinguished alumni who, through the years, have brought honor and prestige to the institution.
This year’s awards were highlighted by the recognition given to eight outstanding alumni who were conferred the first “Glory Awards,” named after pioneering UPCMC dean Gloria Feliciano. Aside from the eight “Glory” awardees, 40 alumni, who were all previous awardees, were also honored.
One of these 40 was veteran TV director Maria V. Montelibano who, aside from being the mover behind MVM, an outfit involved in handling political candidates, producing documentaries and launching events, is busy with her work with Gawad Kalinga where she is considered one of its pillars.
Other honorees were Abel Ulanday, Inquirer associate editor; Sen. Loren Legarda, former senator Orly Mercado, and media practitioners.
The eight “Glory Award” recipients were: Lan Mercado for social advocacy; Roby Alampay for print and online journalism; Lauren Dyogi for television arts; Raul Castro for marketing communications; Sari Dalena for filmmaking; Joel David for “film research and criticism”; Joy Buensalido for “public relations”; and Marissa Flores for “broadcast journalism.”
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