Written by Ronnabelle Bartolay

In celebration of National Children’s Month this November, the ABS-CBN Foundation (AFI) Bantay Bata 163, in partnership with Berge Bulk, facilitated its first face-to-face Children’s Congress at the La Mesa EcoPark on November 25, 2023. This event concludes Bantay Bata’s month-long campaign ‘Tayo ang Bantay Bata,’ which reinforces the Foundation’s advocacy of uniting children, students, teachers, parents, caregivers, and all members of the community in a shared commitment to child protection.

Almost two hundred (200) children and chaperones from four (4) Schools Division Offices (Rizal, Quezon City, Laguna, and San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan) joined in the festivities.

ABS-CBN Foundation Bantay Bata 163 and Berge Bulk Host ‘Children’s Congress’ in Celebration of National Children’s Month 2023

Former Bantay Bata 163 Program Director Jing Castañeda hosted the opening ceremony, which was graced by the presence of AFI Managing Director Roberta Lopez-Feliciano, AFI Advocacy Ambassadors Ernie L. Lopez and Michelle Arville Lopez, Robinsons Land Corporation HR Director AJ Dela Fuente, and current Bantay Bata 163 Program Head Levi Ambon-Rota, RSW.

In the same event, Bantay Bata 163 proudly launched its latest initiative — the Children and Youth Advocacy Council (CYAC), initially comprised of six (6) Filipino youth community ambassadors and advocates for children’s rights from across the Philippines.

“I think magandang opportunity ‘to para maniwala sila sa sarili nila, na may boses din sila. Maski na maraming adults sa paligid nila [ay] nakikinig din kami sa kanila dahil sila ang [mas] nakakaalam kung ano ‘yung mga problema at kailangan nila,” expressed by Lopez-Feliciano.

To foster a sense of community, participants had the chance to explore the interactive booths at the Ecopark’s Amphitheater which housed games, activities, and goodies prepared by donors like Robinsons Hotels & Resorts and Brian Poe Llamanzares of FPJ Ang Panday Bayanihan Foundation, Manila Doctors Hospital, Star Magic, Gardenia Philippines, Odyssey Foundation, Inc., and Big E Food Corporation.

ABS-CBN Foundation Bantay Bata 163 and Berge Bulk Host ‘Children’s Congress’ in Celebration of National Children’s Month 2023

The ABS-CBN Foundation Bantay Bata 163 also acknowledges and appreciates the invaluable efforts of volunteers from World Vision Philippines, City College of San Jose del Monte – College of Social Work, Colegio de San Gabriel Arcangel – College of Social Work, Junior Social Workers Association of the Philippines – Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (JSWAP-PLM), Colegio de San Juan de Letran – Letran Psychology Society (LPS), National University (NU) Fairview, and Peer Organization of the Philippines – Philippine Guidance and Counseling Association (PCGA). Their dedication and support played a crucial role in making the Children’s Congress a resounding success.

Happy National Children’s Month, Kapamilya!