Valenzuela LGU, UNICEF recognize students in film fest

The Valenzuela City government and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recognized students from the city who participated in UNICEF’s Storytelling, Authoring, Filming, and Editing (S.A.F.E.) for Children Initiative Season 2 during an awarding ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 2.

The 2nd CineMahusay Film Fest, the culminating activity of Project S.A.F.E, was held at the Allied Local Emergency Response Teams (ALERT) Multi-purpose Hall in Barangay Malinta. The first film fest was held online in 2021.

S.A.F.E. is a program that empowers children through the creation of participatory videos/short films to document their experiences during the nationwide Covid-19 pandemic lockdown (including violence, bullying and other challenges) and their ability to sustain mental health.

It was conducted by the city government and UNICEF (an organization mandated to protect the rights of every child in the world, especially the most disadvantaged according to in partnership with the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC), and Department of Education (DepEd) Division of City Schools- Valenzuela.

There are 350 elementary and highs school students, Madrasah and Alternative Learning System (ALS) learners, participants from Barangay Councils for the Protection of Children (BCPCs), and community shelters who submitted a total of 51 entries for the program.

They underwent a series of capacity-building workshops which started in November 2022, and were able to write their original stories and film their own participatory videos.

A total of nine awards and 11 trophies were given to the winners of different categories which include two runners-ups and the grand winner for the “Best Participatory Video.”

Present at the culminating activity were Valenzuela City Mayor Weslie “Wes” Gatchalian, Vice-Mayor Lorie Natividad-Borja, UNICEF Chief of Child Protection Ms. Patricia Lim Ah Ken, CWC Policy Advocacy and Information Office Acting Chief Mr. Elino Bardillon, Valenzuela Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Meliton Zurbano, city councilors, and other guests.

Gatchalian said that through arts and programs such as S.A.F.E., the learners are able to express their personalities and feelings, creativity and imagination, innovation, and show their genuine talents.

“Siguro inside the classroom talaga pong medyo focus tayo, ika nga, sa academics no, na sometimes po di natin nare-realize na marami sa ating mga classmate, marami sa ating mga kaibigan at friends na hindi man lahat nag e-excel academically ngunit maraming po has genuine talent inside for different skills tulad po ng mai-pre-present natin at bibigyan natin ng award ngayon hapon (Maybe inside the classroom we really focus on academics that sometimes we don't realize that many of our classmates, many of our friends who don't excel academically have genuine talent inside for different skills like what we will present and recognize this afternoon,” Gatchalian said.

During the culminating activity, participants from the Valenzuela City School of Mathematics and Science were declared as grand winners. The BCPCs of Putrin and Ugong followed them as first and second runners-up, respectively.

UNICEF Chief of Child Protection Patricia Lim Ah Ken said that through the stories, they were able to feel the children’s pain and sadness when they faced different challenges during the pandemic and how they overcame them. She urged the students to continue expressing themselves.

“Through your story, your message has the potential to reach thousands and this will raise awareness on the violence that children should not be experiencing and what children can do with adults to uphold their rights,” she said.

The mayor also thanked the UNICEF and their partner non-government organizations for their long partnership with the local government and for providing opportunities through the creative and innovative programs for the children in the city.

The CWC is the focal inter-agency body of the national government for children mandated to coordinate the implementation and enforcement of all laws and formulate, monitor and evaluate policies, programs and measures for them.

The JJWC aims to prevent children at risk from committing different crimes and ensure that children in conflict with the law are rehabilitated and re-integrated with their families and communities.