By Calvin Penaco

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur, Nov. 26 — Marawi City children sang and danced to festive music in a series of puppet shows conducted by the Information Management and Strategic Communications Support Group (StratComm) of Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) here on Monday, 26 November. StratComm is headed by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and supported by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

The shows were part of the psychosocial intervention activities of today’s Kumpas Barangay: Serbisyo Caravan organized by PIA. The group, composed of several government agencies including the local government unit of Marawi, DSWD, DOH, DTI, Philippine Army, and the Philippine National Police, was led by Harold Clavite, Director-General of PIA.

“We work together with member agencies of TFBM and other partners to regularly support affected families who are still currently staying in the remaining evacuation centers. In StratComm, we do not only manage and process information but we also provide interpersonal services directly to internally displaced persons (IDPs) since last year,” Clavite said.

More than 600 children were awed by the puppet shows held at the Sarimanok Tent City and in Brgy. Bito Buadi Itowa evacuation center. Evacuation camp manager, Engr. Ismael Ali, thanked TFBM and PIA for organizing the shows and added that such intervention is important for these young children.

Bgry. Bito Buadi Itowa Camp Manager, Engr. Ismael Ali delivers his opening message prior to the puppet show. (Photo by: James Umaran/PIA-ICCC)

“Nagpapasalamat kami sa pagbibigay kasiyahan sa mga bata. Talagang nasiyahan sila (We thank them for giving joy to the kids. They made them really happy),” Ali said.

He also called on some more groups to organize similar activities for the children since he had not seen other entertainment shows for children in the evacuation sites.

“Kung mayroon pang pupunta dito, talagang welcome na welcome sa amin (If there are others who wish to come here, they are very welcome),” he added.

PIA’s puppet theatre program has been running for more than two decades now going around the country to educate and entertain young audiences. In 2018 alone, the puppet team conducted 61 shows in several locations in Luzon, Metro Manila, and Mindanao. Today’s shows were focused on values formation and “kagandahang asal” (good manners).

The event also aimed to deliver government services to IDPs where they are currently situated. The local civil registry of Marawi City administered intake for applications of birth certificates and its rural health unit conducted free medical/dental check up providing free vitamins for young children. DSWD and DOH provided additional services as well.

Since 2017, StratComm has been conducting similar events on a quarterly basis in addition to the regular services provided by the different subcommittees of TFBM.