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Filipinas play crucial role in protecting children, humanitarian aid org says

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (PIA) -- Emphasizing the resilience and nurturing spirit of Filipino women and the crucial role they play in protecting children and shaping the country's future, Daphne Culanag of the Project Against Child Exploitation (ACE) of World Vision Philippines calls for a collective effort to prioritize initiatives that combat child abuse and teenage pregnancy.

"It is our tenacity as Filipinos that we don’t give up. We are empowered to really hold on, to pursue what we want for our children, even if they are not our own, for the children of the Philippines. We have that nurture; we can nurture children and our families, but we don't give up whatever the odds,” said Culanag during the Talakayan sa PIA.

In celebration of National Women’s Month, Culanag highlighted this trait of Filipino women as an invaluable asset that pushes them to persevere against all odds. Thus, together with the City Government of Cagayan de Oro through Councilor Girlie Balaba, Project ACE initiated the orientation of the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) with 40 participating barangays on Feb. 26–29. 

The City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD), City Council for the Protection of Children (CCPC), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) also took part in the said activity, especially emphasizing the role of women in protecting children.

The road to child protection

Reflecting on her journey, Culanag acknowledged the influence of her parents, especially her mother, who advocated for family life and the protection of the unborn. This upbringing instilled in her a deep sense of responsibility toward protecting children from any forms of abuse and exploitation present in society today.

"I've worked with children, child laborers, and children who have been sexually abused. I thought I'd seen the worst, but we continue to see more cases like online sexual abuse and exploitation of children,” said Culanag.

Culanag emphasized the distressing reality of mothers becoming facilitators of online sexual abuse and exploitation, and the harrowing reality of children as young as three months old falling victim to exploitation underscores the urgency of her advocacy.

"Until there’s a child that is being abused, I think we have to continue with this advocacy of promoting child protection," she said.

With the vision to have a society where every child receives protection, education, and love, she recognized the role of families, communities, and the government in ensuring children grow up in a supportive environment that fosters confidence and responsible decision-making.

“It’s always my prayers na magising tayong Pilipino, na 'yung mga bata ay they're not there to be abused and pagkakitaan [It’s always my prayer that Filipinos will realize that children are not meant to be abused or exploited]. God gives children to families to be protected,” said Culanag.

Amidst existing cases of child exploitation, the advocate stresses the role of the government in prioritizing education, women's empowerment, and positive parenting initiatives to create a conducive environment for children's growth and development.

Culanag also expressed her gratitude to their partners for helping promote advocacy for children’s protection throughout the years, emphasizing that these children are the future of the country. "We don't want our future Filipinos to grow up broken,” she added.

"To young girls, I pray that you will all grow up to be women of the Lord, young girls who can say no. It's okay to say no if it's not good, and if you're uncomfortable, stand up for your rights,” the project director said.

Culanag's words resound as a call to action as Women's Month approaches, serving as a reminder of our shared need to defend and uplift the most defenseless among us: the children. Her advocacy provides guiding light, resilience, and hope for future generations as they work toward a brighter future. 

The Talakayan sa PIA of the Philippine Information Agency-10 airs once a month to highlight different societal issues and concerns. (KAPG/PIA-10) 

Project Director Daphne Culanag (right) of the Project Against Child Exploitation of World Vision Philippines called for a collective effort to prioritize initiatives that combat child abuse and teenage pregnancy during the Talakayan sa PIA. (Photo: PACR/PIA-10)

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Jasper Marie Rucat

Regional Editor

Region 10

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