'Ang Bagong Kalaban': How to explain coronavirus to children

Published March 21, 2020, 10:25 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Gabriela Baron

As the Philippines ramps up its response to the coronavirus pandemic, we find schools closing and supermarket shelves are tripped bare.


“Ang Bagong Kalaban” (The New Enemy) is a children’s poem meant to creatively explain coronavirus to kids without scaring them.

“Nasulat ang tula bilang response sa pangangailangang i-educate ang mga tao tungkol sa panganib ng dulot ng virus na to,” author Ferdie Eusebio told Manila Bulletin.

(The poem was written in response to the need to educate people about the dangers of the virus.)

The poem also teaches children to properly wash hands and to observe social distancing.

“May paniniwala rin kaming kung matututuhan ng mga bata ang tungkol sa panganib na ito, baka sakaling makinig ang ibang matatanda at tuluyan nang sumunod sa alituntunin ng mga ahensiya ng pamahalaan,” Eusebio said.

(We also believe that if children understand all about the risks, then maye some  adults will listen and then abide by the guidelines of government agencies.)

Eusebio urged fellow parents to be creative and stay calm in explaining the virus to their children.

“Panahon itong natatakot ang buong sambayanan sa isang di nakikita ngunit nararamdamang kalaban. Pero kung magiging mahinahon ang bawat isa, lalo na ang mga magulang, magkakaroon tayo ng tamang strategy kung paano susugpuin ang bagong kalabang to,” he added.

(This is a time when the entire country is afraid of an enemy we cannot see, but feel. But if everyone is calm, especially parents, we will have the right strategy to beat this new enemy.)

“Halos lahat ng bata ay gustong maging superhero, kaya akbang ibinigay sa kanila ang misyong ito para matalo ang bagong kalaban,” Eusebio said.

(Nearly every kid wants to be a superhero, so this mission was given to them to defeat the new enemy.)

Eusebio added that the poem will soon be available in English.

“Ang Bagong Kalaban” is written by musician and poet Ferdie Eusebio and designed by three-time Palanca awardee Jairene Cruz-Eusebio of Sulat Kamay in partnership with Philippine Society of Nutritionist-Dietitians, BolunTurismo PH, and Canva.

The poem is free and can be accessed here.

According to United Nations Children’s Fund, having an open, supportive discussion with children can help them understand, cope, and even make a positive contribution for others.

“It’s also understandable if your children are feeling anxious, too. Children might find it difficult to understand what they are seeing online or on TV — or hearing from other people — so they can be particularly vulnerable to feelings of anxiety, stress, and sadness,” it added.