By JANICE LEE MONTE-HERNANDEZ
MANILA — “We are so happy. I never expected that I could be a radio anchor and I could speak over the radio. All of us come from poor communities and this is a big opportunity for us.”
Salome Nanoz, 15, is a high school student from an urban poor community in Bgy. Tatalon, Quezon City. Nanoz, along with 17 other kids from Bagong Silangan village, Commonwealth and Tandang Sora in Quezon City, Malanday village in Marikina and Vitas in Tondo, Manila are part of the Bata News Network.
Graduating from a two-part child rights, theater and radio broadcasting training, the Bata News Network aged 9 to 17, now make the group of radio anchors, drama talents and script writers for Kaya Natin ‘To Kids, a radio program produced by the Association of the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia (Arcsea).
Over 50 kids attended the first part of the training while 17 kids were selected for the specialized radio broadcasting training which included instructions on radio production and sound editing, script writing and basic broadcasting.
Participants of the trainings were nominated by various women community organizations like the Samahan ng Maralitang Kababaihang Nagkakaisa (Samakana) and local Gabriela chapters.
“I did not expect that I would be included. Out of the many children in the world, I am one of those who were given the chance to join here and use my talent in expressing one’s self,” said Aprilyn Gerodias, 12, from Bagong Silangan village.
Klint Cabutaje, 14, from Bgy. Tatalon was selected to anchor the second season’s pilot episode along with Nanoz. “At first, we were so nervous but when we started talking, we came to overcome our nervousness. Besides, we study the issues before going on air.
As the radio program’s name suggests, the project sprouted from the idea that children can do something to change their situations and contribute to society in their own little ways.
Madella Santiago, Arcsea executive director explained, “We believe that radio is a powerful means of educating the public about women and children’s rights. Also, this project is a venue for children to exercise their right to participation in issues concerning their communities and their society. We are thankful, happy and proud that Kaya Natin ‘To Kids is now back on air for its second season.”
Kaya Natin ‘To Kids first aired in 2008 over DWIZ. The program had to end after six months with project proponents running short of funds to sustain blocktime rates. Arcsea then sought the support of Gabriela Women’s Party who helped fund the second season of the radio program through the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Rep. Emmi De Jesus.
“Gabriela Women’s Party has always advocated for children’s rights. We are more than happy to provide children, especially those from poor communities, with the opportunity to learn about their rights, learn new skills and to voice their concerns,” said De Jesus.
Since the pilot episode of the second season started in July 2012, Kaya Natin ‘To Kids has since discussed a wide range of issues from the benefits of breastfeeding to disaster preparedness, malnutrition and child labor.
The program airs various news stories in the segment “Balitang Bata” and discusses topics in depth in the segment “Usapang Bata”. Recognition is also given to children who have made contributions to their community in the segment “Huwarang Bata”. A children’s radio drama segment is also in the works and will start airing in the following weeks.
“We learn so much by listening and being part of the radio program. Now we know that we can do many things even if we are still young,” said Aya Cartagena of Bagong Silangan village who reads the news and anchors the episodes for the month of August.
Rachel Sta. Catalina of Tandang Sora village said, “Aside from developing my skills, I also learned many things such as the rights of children like me. I learned that ordinary children like me can make other children socially aware.”
Child rights advocates could not agree more. According to Santiago, “The radio program is a venue for children’s participation in issues in their communities and the country. Children’s participation in social issues is one of their rights and it is very timely to provide them again with such an opportunity.”
For her part, Children’s Rehabilitation Center executive director Jacqueline Ruiz said the program is an efficient tool to deliver to the public cases of rights abuses, especially the growing state perpetrated atrocities. The program creates an environment which enables young children to express their involvement in promoting their rights and welfare.
“With the continuing rights violation to children and the long time neglect of the government on children’s role in nation building, it’s high time to listen to them, understand their situation and respect their rights.”
Reina Requioma of Salinlahi Children’s Alliance also expressed their support. “We commend Arcsea and Gabriela Women’s Party for pursuing this project and espousing the principle that children, through their collective effort, can advance their issues and rights. Kids should be a vital force in empowering themselves towards being responsible citizens of the society that they belong to.”