Project Banig – latag, buklat. kwento – change lives PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 07 January 2013 12:59

On the last Friday night of 2012, while scrolling on my Facebook account trying to find interesting stories from FB friends, I was struck upon a post by a friend about a group called Project Banig Zamboanga. I clicked the FB page and was inspired with the Banig’s noble intention. I “Liked” it.

Project Banig Zamboanga (PBZ), according to their description on Facebook, is an interactive storytelling literacy campaign that caters to children of Western Mindanao especially those who come from the indigenous and marginalized sector of society.

I got even more interested with the project that I contacted the man behind the project, a fellow Zamboangueňo, theatre artist and storyteller, Kiko Miranda.

According to Kiko, the concept of the project is simple.  They find a place, lay down (“latag”) a ‘banig’, gather children, bring out a storybook, open (“buklat”), tell the story (“kuwento”), and change lives.  (Banig – is a Filipino native hand-woven mat where one can sleep or relax.)

Performances of Project Banig take place in site-specific places making nature its stage. The stories that they perform combine prominent indigenous cultural figures/characters to anchor the consciousness of the children to appreciate problems of everyday life. Its interactive nature incites enthusiasm and prompts positive response from the children, making value-formation an extremely meaningful and enjoyable experience- something essential in these times when passivity plagues many societies.

“Project Banig started as an initiative of Sipat Lawin Ensemble, a theatre company that I am part of.  I had a vision of a travelling group of storytellers telling stories in different communities around Zamboanga City.  That is why I decided to do a similar one here in my hometown as part of my personal advocacy for literacy, arts, and children.” (Sipat Lawin Ensemble is a group of theater players composed of the young Theater Arts alumni of the Philippine High School for the Arts.)

PBZ launched its first “adventure” (as what they want to call their storytelling sessions) at Vitali Elementary School as part of the Kids’ Fun Day of the SACSI Office of Ateneo de Zamboanga University.  The group shared different stories to the children of the families who were victims of the recent flooding brought about by Typhoon Pablo.

The next adventure brought the group to Paseo del Mar where they performed their first original children’s story entitled “Omboh Dilaut (The God of the Sea)”.  Their audience were the Badjaos who live along the nearby coastal baranggay of Mariki.

“We want our stories to be accessible and understood by the children that is why we consciously translate our stories to the dialect that our audience will understand.  In Vitali, we spoke in Chavacano and in Paseo del Mar, we attempted to speak in Samal.”

Part of PBZ’s campaign is they give each child a storybook that they can bring home and read. 
“Friends, organizations, and donors have been very generous in donating books to PBZ.  We are still accepting donations, in cash or in kind, to help sustain the project and to help PBZ reach more communities who do not have access to children’s literature.  Hopefully, in the future, we get to be supported by established and respected publishing houses of children’s books like Adarna Publishing, Lampara Books, and the like.” 

For January, PBZ will have sessions at EAAB Elementary School for the children of our brave and honourable Air Force and at Labuan for the launch of the Philippine Toy Library – Labuan.

“We are looking at having at least one adventure per month.  We partner with different organizations and establishments in Zamboanga and help organize a PBZ visit in a specific community.  As of now, PBZ is partnering with I Can Make a Difference, Inc. and Philippine Toy Library – Zamboanga.  Hopefully we’d be able to expand our network and collaborate with organizations who share the same advocacy as ours.  We dream that Project Banig will not just be an ordinary storytelling adventure.  We dream that one day Project Banig will be a revolution for literacy, imagination, and children’s rights.”

For more information about Project Banig Zamboanga, LIKE their page at www.faecbook.com/projectbanigzamboanga 



By Dante Corteza