In Zarraga, an hour and a half away from Iloilo city proper, is an SOS Children’s Village.
SOS Children’s Village in Iloilo is a private organization that provides long-term family-based care and education to orphaned, abandoned and neglected children. In each SOS Children’s village, there are competent and responsible ‘mothers’ who raise these children as their own, and a team of workers that provides support and encouragement for them to take their place in society.
SOS Children’s Villages Philippines is part of the SOS Children’s Villages International, also an independent nongovernmental organization that currently helps children in 133 countries. In the Philippines, SOS has 8 villages: Bataan, Calbayog, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Lipa, Manila and Tacloban.
On the afternoon of April 8, I visited this village in Iloilo and met 17 kids who were interested in the arts. I introduced myself as someone who has fulfilled her childhood dream of being an artist, and is now pursuing her dream of traveling all over the country; a peripatetic artist, if you please. Then it was their turn to introduce themselves and share what their interests are. Majority of them loves to draw and play football, whilst two girls say they love to swim and another girl says she loves karate. When we were all better acquainted, I introduced them to origami.
We made origami sailboats, or paraws. This native sailboat is a popular staple of the Visayas provinces. To this day, people from the Iloilo Strait still uses the paraw as a means of transportation as well a source of livelihood. With a fresh breeze, and an Ilonggo at the helm, the paraw is a strikingly fast boat, making 20 to 30 kph through the waves. Indeed, the paraw was the inspiring prototype from which the Westerners have developed what they call the trimaran, the fastest sailboats now on the planet.
After learning how to fold the paraw, I asked them to decorate the hull and the sails as colorful as they can with the crayons, oil pastels and colored markers I brought with me. And to make it more interesting and to have more interaction with the kids, I asked them to indicate, whether by drawing it or just writing it down, what they wanted to be when they grow up on the sail of the paraw. One guy wanted to play for the German national football team, the other wanted to be a seaman, the tallest girl wanted to be a model, while the most witty of them all just wanted to be “forever young”.
After playing around with the paraws, the children and I just sort of did things freestyle. We started playing around with the oil pastel, drawing anything we could think of. I went home carrying gifts of their unique drawings of palm trees, sun kissed mountains and calm oceans. These kids are so talented!
I was given a certification of appreciation too!
I’ve got to say, going to Zarraga for an afternoon with these kids has been the highlight of my trip to Iloilo. Nothing like being inspired by kids to pursue your dreams! 🙂