Is this really love?
The “creative presentation” by the Anak Teatro ng Culiat, a children’s theater group, was foreseen to be traumatic for some members of the audience that organizers prepared debriefing services at the venue.
The occasion was the official launch of the Official Plan of Action to End Violence against Children, a document prepared through a number of consultations with government bodies, led by the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), and by Unicef, NGOs working with children, health caregivers, educators, and most important of all — children themselves.
And true enough, the stage presentation was so realistic, so resonant with reality and memory, that some in the audience were moved to tears. A line that touched me particularly was uttered by a character who was being continually abused — physically and emotionally — by his father. The father justified the abuse as being done out of love, “so that you would remember and not repeat your mistakes.” This led the boy to wonder: “Is this really what love is all about? If he really loves me, why does he hurt me all the time?”
Another highlight of the staging: To illustrate the use of corporal punishment, characters wielded outsized instruments used to inflict pain on children: a slipper, a belt, a wire hanger. Common household items, but perhaps in the eyes of children at the receiving end of the punishment, truly gigantic and menacing.
Seven “key result areas” have been highlighted in the Plan of Action: the practice of “evidence-based” parenting and positive discipline; children and adolescents demonstrate personal skills in protecting themselves from violence; all children have access to appropriate and quality protection services; the child protection framework is effectively in place; all laws related to violence against children are in place; and child protection systems at all levels are effectively functioning.
Government was sufficiently represented at the launch, led by Department of Social Welfare and Development officer-in-charge Emmanuel Leyco and Rep. Karlo Nograles, who chairs the House appropriations committee. Other government departments were present as well, along with NGOs and sectoral groups, including parents with a pair of mothers who head their community organizations of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries, and the children themselves, a pair of 15-year-olds.
Nograles, in his capacity as the “shepherd” of the national budget through the House, promised to give priority to “projects for the welfare of children,” including programs addressing childhood malnutrition.
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