Sometime on May, I conducted a literary art and photography workshop for the children or youth of the Silong Tanglaw Foundation, a shelter for the streetchildren. The institution is located at Araneta Avenue in Quezon City.
The center has the objectives of forming and uplifting the life of street children through various programs and services such as providing them shelter and other basic needs, care and guidance, basic education, develop competencies and sense of responsibility and prepare them for reintegration with their family and the community.
Prior to my visit, I contacted Etang, one of the staff members and she arranged my session with the children. I was welcomed by the children who are busy then fixing the chairs when I arrived. I chatted with them for a while and they got so many stories to tell. They even asked me if I’m a seaman since Im wearing a shirt with an image of the ship Nippon Maru.
From that question I started my storytelling session by sharing stories behind the Ship for South East Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP), an exchange program sponsored by the Cabinet Office of Japan where they invite youth of Japan, Southeast Asian countries especially the Philippines to develop friendship and mutual understanding. We cruised around South East Asia and Japan. I told them that so many youth dreams were realized in joining the program. It’s a life changing opportunity that they may also have in the future. They were amazed and got excited of the idea.
Since I am from the Ilocos region, I shared the famous epic Biag ni Lam-ang. It is an oral tradition from the Ilocano community. Lam-ang is an extraordinary being who can speak in his early years eventually chosing his own name. Just right after every story I share, I raised questions and got answered by them. For every correct and first to raise answer was a souvenir item to grab such as cap, pen, keychain as prizes. They were so delighted with the question and answer.
For the kids’ participation, I brought copies of children's poems for them to recite. These poems depict mothers love. It was our way to celebrate Mother's Day. Apart from this they also rendered songs during the program. At the latter portion of the session I was joined by Baibon Sangid a friend from National Youth Commission who is also an alumna of SSEAYP.
Last part of the workshop was the launch of Kids on Project Photography. We started the session with a short lecture on photography and the basic parts of a camera. Then one by one did a hands-on shoot with my DSLR cam. They just explored another visual art form that is photography. Just right before we close the workshop, I am deeply touched to receive a thank you card from the Silong Tanglaw children, their very own artwork with a heartfelt message of appreciation inside. Truly, it’s another great rewarding experience!