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Philippines: Children of War Release CD Detailing Their Experiences

For one group of youngsters here, music is key to expressing their emotions and the challenges of living in a region torn by strife.

December 2007

Thirteen-year-old Robert John Serada is a drummer and guitarist for Sarimbanog, a band formed by World Vision-sponsored children in the Philippines who discovered music as a method of communicating their challenges and developing their artistic talents.
© 2007 Karen Rivera/World Vision
A group of World Vision-sponsored children living in a conflict zone in the Philippines have formed a band to express their experiences in music, which has been released as a CD.

The children live in the province of Surigao del Norte, location of sporadic gun battles between the government and the rebel National Peoples Army.

The children's band is called Sarimbanog — a contraction of "Sayaw, Arte at Tunog" ("Dance, Act and Sing"), and their eight-track CD is entitled "Nangungulila: Ang mga Awit ng Kabataan," or "Yearning for Love: The Voice of Hope for Children."

Putting Emotions Into Rhythm

Karen Rivera, a World Vision communicator, says the group was formed to develop the children's God-given artistic talent and find a creative way for young people to highlight issues of child abuse and experiences fleeing armed conflict. The songs also express a longing to live in a happy and nurturing family.

Prior to putting out the CD, the youngsters toured villages in their community, putting on a play entitled "Dukilom" ("Darkness"), which explores the same themes.

Drummer and guitarist Robert John Serada, 13, says the show was the product of two months of intensive workshops, but the hard work paid off. He believes the band's message is getting through.

"The crowd liked our show and our music," he says. "We had some teary-eyed mothers in the audience."

Drawing Attention to a Tragic Situation

The members of Sarimbanog pose for a group photograph.
The members of Sarimbanog pose for a group photograph. © 2007 Karen Rivera/World Vision

Rivera says World Vision had been trying to find a way to break the silence surrounding child abuse since establishing a development program in Surigao del Norte.

An initial community-based study conducted by World Vision found high levels of sexual and physical abuse suffered by children. This year, a provincial and local government study documented 17 cases of rape or attempted rape of children and nine cases of physical abuse.

Rivera adds many other cases go unreported because of the stigma associated with the issue.

'I Became More Aware'

Robert, like the rest of his band mates, had no formal education in music but discovered he had a natural talent.

Since joining Sarimbanog, he says he has traveled to new places, discovered new friends, and learned new priorities.

"I became more aware of the issues that impact children like me," he says. "Before, I was indifferent about these things. I saw symptoms of abused and neglected children, but I didn't care."

Robert says band members are now nurturing a new dream — that someday they will perform for even bigger crowds and take their music beyond their home villages.

Learn More

>> Listen to "Why," a song from Sarimbanog's CD (mp3 file).
>> Read more about World Vision's efforts to prevent the sexual exploitation and abuse of children around the world.

Two Ways You Can Help

>> Pray for children around the world, including those in the Surigao del Norte province of the Philippines, who suffer because of conflict or physical and sexual abuse. Pray that Sarimbanog's music will help spread a powerful message about the conditions these children face and inspire others to take action on their behalf.
>> Give monthly to help children around the world whose lives are torn apart by war and conflict. Your monthly gift can rescue one child after another from a life of horror. Become a Child Crisis Partner.

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