Project Banig Zamboanga: Alternative Education for Underprivileged Filipino Children

Posted on April 22, 2013

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Photo submitted by PBZ

Photo submitted by PBZ

A woven mat (banig in Tagalog) has never been as powerful an object until a group of storytellers in the small, southern Philippine city of Zamboanga decided to use it as a tool for children and storytellers to come together and explore worlds through creativity and learning. Project Banig Zamboanga (PBZ) is a group of young adults who visit different underprivileged communities in and around Zamboanga City, Philippines promoting literacy and creativity through interactive storytelling.

 According to Kiko Miranda, who is one of the founders of PBZ, the idea for bringing “…alternative and transformative education to children” through PBZ came to him during a mundane day in Zamboanga City sometime in December 2012. Kiko said he believes “…that thirst for reading starts with an appreciation for listening to stories.”

PBZ‘s first few activities involved the storytellers visiting different communities in and around Zamboanga City, sharing stories with children from different backgrounds, such as those affected by floods, children of military personnel, and children belonging to indigenous Filipino tribes. PBZ chooses stories that promote the Filipino culture, allow children to actively participate throughout the storytelling process, and relate to the children’s daily lives. These stories focus mainly on Philippine folklore, but also include adaptations of popular stories, such as “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. By setting up its banig, PBZ creates a safe area for children to both learn and have fun, away from the violence and hardship surrounding them. PBZ also receives books from generous donors and hands them out to children from the different communities they visit, to hopefully encourage children to continue reading and learning beyond the interactive storytelling sessions.

In the few months since PBZ told its first story, there have already been a lot more communities visited by PBZ‘s storytellers in and around Zamboanga City, a number of stories told, and numerous books given to children eager to learn. Other than storytelling, PBZ is also busy preparing for their participation in upcoming activities, such as the Summer Peace Festival 2013, and Freedom Ride, an anti-human trafficking cycling event. Both events will be held in Zamboanga City during the last week of April.

Photo submitted by PBZ

Photo submitted by PBZ

According to Kiko, PBZ has been receiving a lot of support from different people and organizations, helping PBZ reach more children and promote their work, although more financial aid and book donations are always welcomed and needed to further expand PBZ‘s reach. To show your support and to learn more, make sure to LIKE PROJECT BANIG ZAMBOANGA ON FACEBOOK.