Karapat-dapat: Bata, alamin ang iyong mga karapatan! (Child, know your rights!) reminds us of this. Karapat-dapat is the latest children’s activity book of The Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development, in close collaboration with Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang INK) that celebrates children, at the same time informing them of their dignity and rights, even at a young age.
The book was inspired by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a human rights treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health, and cultural rights of children. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989, and ratified by the Philippines a year later. It is the first legally binding international convention to affirm human rights for all children.
Karapat-dapat takes passages from the UN Convention and presents it in child-friendly language accompanied by youthful and relevant artworks, as well as fun activities for kids to take their pencils and crayons to. At a time where the very value of human rights is questioned, CANVAS and Ang INK take a stand: That all human rights, of adults and children, are important and must be protected.
The book, for instance, takes Article 13 of the Convention and presents it in both Filipino and English: “May karapatan kang manuri at tumuklas ng iba’t ibang bagay. May kalayaan kang ipahayag ang sarili sa pamamagitan ng pagtalakay, pagguhit, pagsulat, at iba pang paraan.” (“You have a right to explore and discover things. You have a right to express yourself by discussing, drawing, writing, and other ways.”)
Each of the pages celebrate children and affirm their agency and intelligence, recognizing that these can be expressed in different ways. Each page is a reminder of how children must be nurtured, encouraged, and protected.
“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity,” Nelson Mandela once said. And this applies no less to the youngest in society. Karapat-dapat is also one of the titles CANVAS is giving away to children in underprivileged communities through their One Million Books for One Million Children Campaign. Each purchase of the book guarantees that two other children in CANVAS’ chosen communities will receive their very own copy of the book, for free.
Thus far, the Campaign has donated some 200,000 books nationwide. In many cases, the books the children receive through the Campaign has been the very first book the children ever own, and cherish.