MARTHA Balagat, Dannah Suaze, Wisely brothers Trubador and U Maalam, Kesz Valdez, Raynold dela Cruz and Angela Serafico with (back) Kraft Foods Philippines’ category marketing manager for beverages Alex Dan Tacderas, Tang assistant brand manager Geline Chua and brand manager Michelle Santillan
Seven kids gave playtime a whole new meaning as they chose to become a philanthropist, a child-rights advocate and visual arts mentors, instead of spending their childhood playing.
In the recent Tang Galing Mo Kid Awards, Kraft Foods Philippines’ category marketing manager for beverages Alex Dan Tacderas said that “children these days have serious talks about life.”
Unfortunately, Tacderas said, “we discovered that a lot of parents don’t take them seriously because they think they’re just children.”
Through this program, “parents and adults are made to realize that these kids have a voice and that they have serious thoughts on serious matters.”
Launched in 2011, Tang Galing Mo Kid is a search for empowered kids, aged 13 and below, who make a difference in their community. Among this year’s awardees is 13-year-old Kesz Valdez, a former street beggar and labor-exploited child.
Only 3 years old then, he would be seen in Cavite’s dump with his siblings scrounging for junk to sell for their family’s sustenance. At age 5, while rushing to the fresh load of garbage, Valdez was shoved to a burning tire. He suffered burns on his back and several parts of his body.
His parents, unable to pay for his hospitalization, turned him over to Club 8586’s Harnin Manalaysay.
Since then, at age 6, Valdez has been teaching other kids personal hygiene, by giving demonstrations. And at age 7, he formed a group—Caring Children—that gives slippers, books and hygiene kits to street kids.
“I feel happy that we are able to help a lot of kids and that there are people who continuously help and support us in our cause,” Valdez said.
Now 13 and entering his first year in high school, Valdez plans to become a teacher and prefers to stay here and teach in the country.
Art for others
“Dora the Explorer” was the first artwork of brothers U Maalam and Trubador Wisely.
“At the age of 4 [Trubador] and 7 [U Maalam], they are already fond of drawing. They copy what they see on TV,” mother Marjorie said.
With their parents’ encouragement and support, the brothers joined oil-painting classes at the City College of Manila to develop their talent in visual arts. For six years now, the brothers have been producing artworks, which they sell from P2,000-P10,000.
The sales proceeds go not to them but to buy art materials, such as canvas, coloring and drawing pens, for other children.
On weekends, the brothers can be seen in parks, in Plaza Miranda or even under the bridge, teaching kids how to draw.
U Maalam says that aside from the satisfaction he derives from teaching kids how to draw, this activity is also his bonding time with brother Trubador.
“We are very happy whenever we teach other kids how to draw because apart from sharing our talents, we are able to develop them as well,” U Maalam said.
An incoming first-year high-school student, U Maalam plans to study Fine Arts to develop his skills so he can help more kids.
When asked how he developed this passion for helping others, Marjorie said, “Charity starts at home and if you give them your full support and show them kindness, they are able to adopt these values and impart the same to their community.”
An active advocate of children’s rights, My Rights volunteer Raynold de la Cruz, 11, launched “Saving Kids with First-Aid Kits,” which aims to provide first-aid kits to public-school clinics. He raises funds for his cause by selling ice candies.
In 2010, he was given the Good Deeder Award and a Young Mandela title by the South African Embassy and the Dynamic Teen Company, where he is now a trainee.
A multifaceted artist, Angela Serafico, 10, helps less-fortunate children. When Tropical Storm “Sendong” struck, she sold two of her paintings and donated the proceeds to calamity victims.
Teaching Catechism to less-fortunate kids has been the advocacy of Dannah Suaze, 11, and Martha Balagat, 12.
A Laguna Council representative, Suaze inspires kids to become responsible citizens through her involvement in their barangay, church and Girl Scout programs.
Balagat created and illustrated her book on her first grade and is a contributor of Junior Inquirer.
With around 150 nominations this year, Tacderas said that these kids come from a cross section of society.
“We have privileged kids making a difference, not only impoverished kids. It has nothing to do with their social class or their deplorable state. Any single kid can actually think of something serious [for the society]… we’re amazed by how these kids have made use of their life.”
Each awardee was given P100,000 and another P100,000 was given to their respective organizations.
Age not a hindrance
CNN Hero of the Year Efren Peñaflorida reminded the kids of three things—“Always be ready to serve, use whatever talent you have and remember that what you do with your talent matters. When we serve, we should serve people equally because we don’t want to discriminate. And finally, always think of ways of how you can improve yourself. Don’t sit too long on your laurels because the summit is not the end of your journey.”
Renowned for his kariton classroom that gives alternative education to impoverished children, Peñaflorida said that despite their youth, these kids are an inspiration.
“It’s inspiring to see these kids doing something for others. They do not look at their age as a hindrance to help others and their community.”
He noted that “seeing these young kids helping others, I see hope that our next generation of leaders is a better breed.”