LATUS, the independent short film produced in Davao by the Tambayan Center for Children's Rights Inc., which harnessed the talents of streetgirls under the center's guidance, won Best Short Film in the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival, besting 57 other films from 23 countries.
"Latus (Beatings)" was a film produced to heighten awareness against corporal punishment at home.
It was developed from a script written by Nakamata, a group of adolescent street girls from Davao City who reveals their story about the violence they experience at home and in their communities.
In support of the growing campaign against corporal punishment in the Philippines, the girls put together a story that represents the kinds of violence children see every day, and often experience from the people who are supposed to take care of them.
Aside from writing the script, members of Nakamata also acted in the film and worked behind the scenes with film director John Paul Seniel.
With support from Save the Children and Cordaid, the anti-corporal punishment film was produced by the Tambayan Center for Children's Rights, a Davao-based organization that has been actively promoting the rights of street girls for close to 15 years.
Tambayan and other non-government organizations that compose the Mindanao Action Group for Child Rights and Protection (MAGCRP) are leading the campaign against corporal punishment and the promotion of positive discipline in Mindanao through the support of Save the Children, an international child rights organization.
As part of the campaign, Tambayan, Nakamata and other non-government organizations have been using the short film to raise the awareness of children, parents, communities and local governments in Mindanao on the urgent issue of corporal punishment and the need to come up with a law that would explicitly ban this practice and promote the practice of positive discipline.
Nakamata members who participated in the film also serve as resource persons during discussions and orientations on corporal punishment and children's rights that follow every showing of the film.
"I'm so happy that Latus won and that our issues and our most painful experiences where shared with other people in different places. Many have realized, especially parents like my own mother, that children who committed mistakes should not be punished by beatings," said 15-year-old Tata, a member of Nakamata.
Advocates at the national and local levels are pushing for a policy that will ban the corporal punishment of children in the home, schools and other settings. House Representatives Bernadette Herrera-Dy and Susan Yap, and Senators Manny Villar and Jinggoy Estrada have filed their respective anti-corporal punishment bills in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Save the Children and other international and local organizations working on children's issues are leading the campaign against corporal punishment at the national level.
"Corporal punishment violates children's human rights and negatively affects their well-being. It is a form of violence against children. The Philippines, as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has the obligation to ensure children's protection from all forms of violence," Save the Children Country Director Steve Ashby said.
"There is a better way of disciplining children and this is through a positive, non-violent approach that respects children, and supports their learning through affection, care and guidance," he added.
Several organizations of children, parents, teachers and other stakeholders support and are actively participating in the anti-corporal punishment campaign in different parts of the Philippines. (Alma Doysabas-Acera/Tambayan)