A Very Creative Christmas in Payatas

By Gabby Gueco | Advocacy

Jan 08

When I was told that we were going to conduct an animation workshop for kids as our Christmas outreach program, I was thrilled! I’ve participated in medical missions and storytelling sessions before, but this was something new.

As a child, I used to spend hours (okay, maybe just minutes) in amazement at homemade flipbooks. I loved seeing still images come to life–I still do! As I grew up, my amusement at flipbooks upgraded to stop motion clips made via digital camera photographs and Windows Movie Maker. I remembered that feeling and was ecstatic to share it with the children of league of legends.

I immediately contacted Ms. Michelle Rogers from the Arnel Pineda Foundation, Inc., a Philippine foundation that provides quality education to underprivileged children. I knew that getting to the location would involve a pretty long walk, but I didn’t mind (we kept it a secret from the volunteers mwahaha). We agreed upon a date– December 23, 2015, just two days before lol tournament.

Getting to Sitio Bakal in Payatas required a car ride, a pedicab ride, and a long walk.

The road leading to Sitio Bakal

The walk took more or less 20 minutes–10 minutes if you’re a fast walker, according to the locals. This proved to be a bit challenging, considering all the equipment we were carrying. Aside from donated goods, cameras, and tripods, we also had to bring a (rather heavy lol) generator with us since there was no electricity in the area. Sir EJ and Sir Shoden considered electricity a MUST so that we could show the children their final products on a projector rather than a tiny gaming laptop screen. Also, the usual battery charging issues.

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While the walk was tiring, the sight of the surroundings left me in awe. Green everywhere–that’s something you don’t usually see in Metro Manila. We even met a few friends along the way! Please refer to the photo above. Haha.

Sitio Bakal, located in Barangay Bagong Silangan in Quezon City, consists primarily of agricultural land. The residents’ sources of livelihood, however, consist of jobs both agricultural and non-agricultural alike. As previously stated, the area does not have access to electricity; sometimes they use makeshift generators out of car batteries that they have to recharge at the city proper. Furthermore, they do not have access to water either. Their location makes the situation more challenging, for the available water sources like wells risk contamination from the nearby Payatas dumpsite.

We arrived at the venue of the workshop at around 10:00AM. It was a classroom donated by Koreans, thus the presence of the flags of the Philippines and Korea painted on the walls alongside a few Korean characters. Around 30 children ranging from ages 6 to 16 participated.

Participative children — we promise this photo was not staged! Haha

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Check out the flags

For the first activity, the children were asked to draw themselves and write their names beside their drawings. Afterwards, they would cut out their drawings and names and line up to have their artworks and themselves photographed. This would later be converted into a stop motion video.

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Can I just say, these are pretty creative kids! They knew how to strike a pose, too!

Nothing can compare to the feeling of looking at the kids’ faces when they saw the finished product. Seeing them giggling at their drawings moving, their photos, their friends–it was heartwarming, really. It didn’t take much to motivate them to continue onto the next activity (after eating snacks, of course.)

Ms. Michelle and the kind residents of Sitio Bakal prepared champorado for the kids. We at SHOOT! also provided snacks and drinks, care of our wonderful donors. Once everything was settled, the workshop proceeded.

For the next round, we divided the children into two groups–one for the older kids and one for the younger ones. The younger children had a chalkboard storytelling session, in which they would be the ones to decide how a story goes while drawing on the chalkboard. Photos were taken as the drawings on the chalkboard changed, which was later converted to a stop motion video.

The older children, on the other hand, got their hands dirty.

A day earlier, we at SHOOT! recorded a voice-over for the classic Filipino children’s take, “Si Pagong at Si Matsing.” The children now were tasked to create clay figures of the turtle, the monkey, the tree–everything! Needless to say, it took longer than the younger childrens’ activity. They were so engrossed in what they were doing, however, that they weren’t really in a rush to eat when lunch was served. Special thanks to Cafe Engaño for the delicious food and the freebies.

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I’d definitely prefer this version over the images on the printed storybook

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Once again, their masterpieces were photographed and converted into a stop motion production, complete with the voice-over.

I was really amazed at the SHOOT Team’s crazy SDE skills, especially for this clay activity! Imagine, there were about a hundred photos taken (doing this is hard enough as it is!), and they had to be synced with the voice-over while making sure that the stills remain in motion (did that make sense?), all in a couple of minutes! Children have quite the short attention span so we must not keep them waiting for long!

But of course, editing does take time. So I’m going to take this opportunity to share with you all the selfies that I took while waiting with the children. Hehe I’m (half) kidding.

On a more serious note, my favorite part of any outreach program is interacting with the local residents. The children were shy at first but at the latter part of the event, they were running around and borrowing cameras and taking photos of each other. Two of the girls (and I) had an impromptu basic DSLR photography workshop c/o Sir Shoden haha.

I had so much fun talking to the children! They were so nice; one even let me borrow her dog.

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With Miss Jopay and the puppy named Marimar

Of course, I spent time bonding with the adults too. I couldn’t really help much with the facilitation of the workshops so I spent most of my time mingling and running needed errands. The residents of Sitio Bakal are incredibly gracious and hospitable. Aside from cooking champorado for everyone, they helped me in running errands for the workshop, such as picking up food all the way at the city proper and serving it. Furthermore, they always kept a smile on their faces. You’d think that a 20-minute walk back and forth from the Sitio would tire me out, but I had such a great time with them that I didn’t seem to mind.

Oh and my beautiful mother (if you’re reading this, hi Nanay!) came along too! I met Ms. Michelle and found out about the Arnel Pineda Foundation from my mom back in 2014.

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Okay, this is it! At around 2:00PM, all of the works were projected onto the screen.

The output from the first activity was shown once more. What amazed me was how the children were as delighted to see the video as they were the first time they saw it. The same giggles and smiles arose.

The chalkboard activity was really cute. The main character in the story was actually named after one of the children; I remember asking him “Ikaw ba yan?” to which he eagerly nodded.

Finally, the “Si Pagong at Si Matsing” output really made me go W O W. I wish I could have attended something like this when I was a child!! It felt like I was watching afternoon cartoons on ABS-CBN or Nickelodeon. It was pretty awkward listening to myself doing the voiceover, though, so I just pretended it was someone else. Haha.  If the output made me feel incredibly happy and all I contributed was the voiceover (which I pretended was not me), I could only imagine how the children felt, seeing their creations come to life! The parents were happy too. Everyone was happy! This is when I knew that everything we did in order to make this outreach possible is definitely worth it.

I know that the community has major issues that cannot be solved by a four-hour animation workshop, but at the end of the day, I’m just happy we were able to put a smile on people’s faces. There’s this constant debate about technology ruining one’s childhood, but I think this goes to show that balance can be attained. Technology–in this case, video production and editing–can expand children’s creativity without sacrificing hands-on craft and interactions. In a place where electricity is nowhere to be found, the concept of video production is relatively new but can encourage them that they can learn and do anything if they wish to. Creativity has no limit.

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Calling it a day!Cheers,

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Gabby from the SHOOT! Team

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