Merging art and literature to solve illiteracy
MANILA, Philippines - Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (CANVAS) hopes to donate one million books to one million children nationwide.
"Nadia and the Blue Stars" is a book about a little flower girl who helped her village rise from the ravages of war. A copy was given to a girl in Tacloban after Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines in November 2013. A year later, as another storm hit the city, this girl evacuated with her family with only one thing in her hands – her “Nadia and the Blue Stars.”
It is one of 19 children's books published by Center for Art, New Ventures & Sustainable Development (CANVAS), a non-profit organization that has been helping less fortunate children through book donations to public schools, hospitals, and marginalized communities nationwide.
On their 10th year, CANVAS hopes to broaden its advocacy through their One Million Books for One Million Filipino Children Campaign.
According to Executive Director Gigo Alampay, 80,000 books have been distributed to children from Batanes to Zamboanga since 2013. They hope to reach 1 million in 5 to 7 years.
"It's our hope that one of the stories we publish, one of the artworks we show, or one of the ideas we share, would one day inspire a child to make the world a better place," Alampay said.
Solving the issue
The 2015 report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) shows that even if 9 out of 10 Filipinos can read and write, only 86.4 % were functionally literate. This means that more than 12 million Filipinos have reading and writing skills, but are still inadequate for everyday needs.
By promoting the love of books to children, Alampay hopes to address these literacy issues.
"If kids love books at a young age, they will read all their lives, whether they're in school or not. And I think, what they do with their lives will be enhanced by the fact that they love to read," he said.
CANVAS annually holds their flagship program, the Romeo Forbes Children's Story-writing Contest to get the best original stories for publication.
"If you have a book that has colors and excellent artworks plus good stories, children will read it again and again. It's a bonus that it also exposes them to art, to Philippine culture, and to the creative talent that's around," he added.
Merging art and stories
A first of its kind, the competition has gained support from local writers and artists over the years.
Award-winning children's book author Augie Rivera, who wrote the first book CANVAS published said, "Nahahasa ang imagination ng bata. Napapakita mo ‘yung iba't ibang worlds, iba't ibang karanasan. Kasama 'yun sa pagkatuto niya habang lumalaki siya so lumalawak din yung pananaw nung bata." (It develops the child's imagination. You can show different worlds, different experiences. That comes with a child's learning, so it also expands his views in life.)
Agay Llanera, author of Sol - A Legend About the Sun, commended CANVAS: "It's not just profit for them, it's also hand-in-hand with helping out other people and it's always championing the Filipino artists."
CANVAS also launched on July 10 the Looking for Juan Outdoor Banner Show - Only in the Philippines at the UP Vargas Museum. The annual exhibit encourages the use of art to reflect on the Filipino national identity. Alongside it is their 10th anniversary exhibit, The Next Chapter.
For more information on CANVAS’ books and projects, visit www.canvas.ph or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org