The Inbox

Street kids paint country’s longest wildlife mural

Text by  Eimor P. Santos and video by Vincent Go,VERA Files

On a normal day, Joshua Mandapat, 14, together with his friends, would roam around the streets, play in computer shops, and sometimes, get into fight with other kids.

But last May 25, his group decided to do something worthwhile for a change. They joined 700 other volunteers in painting a mural on the 1.075-km long wall surrounding the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC) in Quezon City.

It was the group's first time to paint, but they already painted history. The fresco they helped paint, dubbed as the "Biodiversity Wall of Nature," is now the longest wildlife mural in the country.

The mural is an initiative of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) of the Department of Natural Resources (DENR), Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines, and Dolphins Love Freedom Network.

The once green and white wall is now filled with a plethora of colors, showcasing turtles, dolphins, and other wildlife species, including "Lolong," the world's biggest and longest reptile in captivity.

The mural aims to spread awareness of the richness of the Philippine oceans, given the fact that the country is the epicenter of marine biodiversity, PAWB Director Mundita Lim said.

"The wall of the NAPWC will serve as a picture that will remind us of our responsibilities to take care of our marine resources," Lim added. "Not only will it serve as an inspiration to us but also to the millions of other citizens who will pass [by]…"

The idea of involving children in the  Wall of Nature came about when the lead environmental muralist AG Saño saw the group of kids from across the street watching him while he was  sketching on the wall.

At first the boys were hesitant to join, saying they did not know how to paint. Saño asked them a very simple question, "Do you have hands?" He said just one hand would be more than enough.

From then on, Joshua and his friends found a more worthwhile way to enjoy their summer vacation. They would wait for Saño every week and paint, following the outlines marked with chalk.

"Without the help of the small kids from the next barangay, hindi po matatapos yan (the mural would not be finished)," Saño said.

During the actual painting event, about 15 more kids aside from Joshua's group helped paint the mural.

Renñer Piloton, 13, said he and his pals figured in rumbles each time kids from other villages intruded into their "territory" in Bgy. Basra. He also confirmed knowing kid robbers, but declined to name them, saying he might get beaten up.

The street kids of QC are known for being notorious gangsters, snatchers, and "rugby boys."

Considered children in conflict with the law, they are mostly concentrated in the National Capital Region (NCR) which includes QC. The Council for the Welfare of Children noted that as of 2010, there are 8,807 of them in the NCR alone, and are usually involved in theft or robbery.

"Kapag habambuhay natin silang pinagsarhan ng bintana at kinatok palayo, habambuhay din yung problemang may mga batang galit sa mundo (If we forever close our windows on them and knock them away, the problem of having kids who hate life will forever persist)," Saño said.

This is why Saño plans to go back to the nature park every once in a while to conduct art lessons for the kids, teaching them to care for the environment in the process.

Upon hearing this, Renñer said he would gladly choose painting over fighting with other kids.

Children are particularly close to Saño's heart since the 36-year-old artist has spent 22 years of his life volunteering to teach them.

It all started when Sano  was 14 years old. He used to assist his maestro Fernando Sena, the painter-teacher known as "The Father of Philippine Art Workshops," in giving free art classes to street kids of Tondo and inmates of Manila City jail.

From then on, Saño has imbibed the passion for helping the less fortunate. For nine years, he also volunteered for the He Cares Foundation, a street children caring center that helps and teaches extremely poor street kids in Metro Manila.

Today, it's not only with Quezon City children  that he shares  art lessons. He also has sessions with Batangas kids.

Liwliwa Malabed, a writer of literature for kids and member of "Kuting" or "Kuwentista ng mga Tsikiting," lauded the children's involvement in such huge advocacy.

Malabed noted that when Lim delivered his opening remarks in English, she asked a boy next to him, "Naiintindihan mo ba? (Do you understand?)"

The kid, named JR, honestly said he did not

Malabed, despite her fractured right arm painted with glee saying that sometimes the only way for children to understand things, including the environmental problems of the country, is by participating in its solution.

"When they take part in it, they own it," she said. "When they grow up, they are going to be good citizens who care about the environment."

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Pacquiao pleads for Indonesia to spare death row Filipina
    Pacquiao pleads for Indonesia to spare death row Filipina

    World boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao took time out Monday from final preparations for his $400 million megafight with Floyd Mayweather to plead for the life of a Filipina on death row in Indonesia. Pacquiao, a national hero in the Philippines, added his voice to a chorus of global opposition led by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the executions of a group of eight foreign drug convicts, including compatriot Mary Jane Veloso. The eight-division world champion, who will face …

  • Halt Indonesia drug executions until graft claims probed: Australia
    Halt Indonesia drug executions until graft claims probed: Australia

    Australia urged Indonesia Monday to delay the execution of two men for drug offences until a corruption probe into their case is complete, after a report that judges sought tens of thousands of dollars in bribes. "Bali Nine" drug traffickers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan could face the firing squad within days, along with others from Brazil, Nigeria, the Philippines and an Indonesian prisoner. The Indonesian attorney-general's office said the executions would take place this week but did …

  • FordPH Launches the All-New Mustang
    FordPH Launches the All-New Mustang

    Ford Philippines launched the all-new Mustang in a rock concert held at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, last week .  The All-New Mustang is the sixth generation since Ford  launched the first model in April 17, 1964. “The all-new Mustang represents the very best of Ford and its arrival marks the latest chapter of the iconic muscle car’s rich legacy, crafted with a more contemporary look and feel.  With a history spanning more than 50 years, this iconic car is at the heart and soul of Ford and …

  • China maritime tensions dominate Southeast Asia summit
    China maritime tensions dominate Southeast Asia summit

    By Manuel Mogato and Praveen Menon KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Southeast Asian leaders edged closer to open criticism of China's land reclamation in the disputed South China Sea at a regional summit on Monday, as the Philippines drew the ire of Beijing which called its objections to the work "unreasonable". The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Kuala Lumpur, which was supposed to showcase the 10-member bloc's progress towards economic integration, was overshadowed by the …

  • The ‘All You Need’ 2015 Isuzu D-MAX launched
    The ‘All You Need’ 2015 Isuzu D-MAX launched

    Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) just recently introduced the 2015 Isuzu D-MAX pick-up truck at the Clark International Raceway to show that their pick-up model can conquer any kind of terrain.The high-end LS variant and standard LT 4x4 is now equipped with a more powerful engine, the 4JK1-TC (Hi) 2.5-liter engine which with Common Rail Direct Injection and an intercooled Variable Geometry System (VGS) turbocharger. IPC also introduced a new standard ride variant, the LT-X 4x2 manual …

  • Limited Edition Honda CR-V and Jazz now available
    Limited Edition Honda CR-V and Jazz now available

    If you’ve always wanted to be part of an exclusive group of car owners, now might be the time for you to consider getting a Honda CR-V or Jazz.  Honda Cars Philippines Inc. (HCPI) just came out with their limited edition All New Jazz and New CR-V. …

  • ToyotaPH hit its highest monthly sales last March
    ToyotaPH hit its highest monthly sales last March

    Toyota Motors Philippines hit its highest monthly sales to date last March, registering 10,237 units sold.  This recent CAMPI report puts Toyota’s market share at 43.5% last month. …

  • VolkswagenPH launches Child Safety Initiative
    VolkswagenPH launches Child Safety Initiative

    Volkswagen Philippines just  launched the VW Child Safety Initiative (CSI) campaign which aims to support child safety on Philippine roads at the just concluded Manila International Auto Show (MIAS). The World Health Organization’s road safety facts show about 1.24 million die each year globally as a result of vehicle related accidents. Child restraint systems like child seats and booster seats also reduce risk for children by about 70% for infants and upto 80% for small children. This …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options