‘Lakbayin Natin ang EU’ introduces European culture to 1,500 Filipino children for the last 10 years

The European Delegation to the Philippines recently opened its 10th ‘Lakbayin Natin ang EU’ (Journey to EU) Children’s Festival to introduce the countries of the European Union (EU) to Filipino kids, at Museo Pambata, Roxas Boulevard, Manila.

The event was part of a collaborative initiative of the EU Delegation to the Philippines, Museo Pambata and the EU member states’ embassies and cultural institutes through the ‘Viva Europa 2018’, a quarter-long celebrations featuring the European culture and heritage.

The theme of this year’s children’s festival is “Una sa Lahat: Bata” focusing on children’s rights to coincide with the upcoming children’s rights summit on 24 May 2018 also at Museo Pambata.

The European Union Delegation is pleased to have spearheaded this ‘Lakbayin Natin ang EU’ throughout the last 10 years as 1,500 children and youth have been part of the festival of culture, arts, crafts, film, games for Filipino children, said EU Ambassador Franz Jessen.

Maricel Montero, Executive Director of Museo Pambata, said that the Museo Pambata was able to reach out to many disadvantaged children because of the museum’s strong partnership with the EU family in the Philippines as well as with the many NGOs and local communities in the country.

“We are happy to take part in the festival which has been a venue to orient the Filipino children who have otherwise no access to European culture and heritage”, said Ms. Montero.

Children from various foundations, namely, MP Bless the Children Foundation, Missionaries of Charity Delpan, TOPS, Aloutte Foundation, SOS Children’s Village Foundation, Bahay Aurora, Canossa-Tondo Children’s Foundation, jumped from station to station to learn trivia, play games, and hear well-loved folktales prepared by the EU embassies and cultural institutes.

This year had a very strong participation from the Embassies of Austria, Czech Republic, Germany,  Italy through the Philippine Italian Association, Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and Instituto Cervantes, with the assistance of student volunteers from University of the Philippines (UP EURO) and Lyceum University of the Philippines (LPU–PAIR).

Eager kids lined up in groups to have a go at playing football, Germany’s most popular sport. “We chose the activity because Germany is known for football. It’s one of Germany’s national pastimes,” German Embassy press and culture officer Cyril Constantino said.

Philipp Gaux, assistant cultural attache of the Embassy of Germany, added, “What I like about the activity is that because of the size of the group, it educated the children in a social way as well.”

From Italy, a storytelling session hosted by the National Library and a coloring and puzzle activity led by Cristina Morrica of the Philippine-Italian Association helped explain children’s rights to the young kids in attendance. The Embassy of Spain and Instituto Cervantes did a presentation on children’s rights, where they asked the children to write down which of the things they’ve learned they will put into practice.

The children were running around and cheering for each other as traditional Dutch games were introduced by the team from the Embassy of Netherlands, namely Koekhappen (bite the cake), Ezeltje Prikje (pin the tail on the donkey), and Zaklopen (sack race).

Among the Embassy of Sweden’s fun educational activities was a flower-crown making, where the kids were tasked to make their own flower crowns right in time for Sweden’s midsummer season.

The children’s creativity and teamwork were put to practice as they made clay models of the eagle, the Austrian coat of arms, and played Topfschlagen (pot beating) in groups.

“We’ve been joining Lakbayin Natin ang EU since 2015, so we try to give a variety of activities every year,” explains Zelpha Marie Bombais, press and cultural attache of the Austrian Embassy. “We try to focus on one aspect of Austria, and for this year, we wanted emblems and symbols. That’s why they made the clay eagle sculptures. We even partnered with an art school–Young Artists’ Studio.”

The Czech Embassy, which is also currently holding a “Krtek Comes to Manila” exhibition in Museo Pambata, showcased the popular cartoon character Krtek (the little mole) as a way of presenting the Czech Republic’s culture to the curious children. Various activities, like puzzles, drawings, and coloring, were accomplished by the kids.

“The European Union was able to introduce a world that is beyond the community these children grew up to. It is a wonderful experience for them, at a young age, to witness the culture and language of different European Countries,” said Ruth Pascua of SOS Children’s Villages Philippines. “This journey became an avenue for sharing their skills and talents with the various children organizations that have participated.”

The EU Delegation to the Philippines and Museo Pambata presented certificates of appreciation to children and youth who have contributed significantly to the children’s festival throughout the last 10 years.

For further information on Lakbayin Natin ang EU and Viva Europa 2018, visit http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/philippines and the EU in the Philippines Facebook page.

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