Cebu Province, through the Provincial Council for the Welfare of Children (PCWC), celebrates the Children’s Month in October with two big events. It supported the free screening of the movie Lilet Never Happened at the CAFA Theater of the University of San Carlos-Talamban Campus last Oct. 4.
The council also organized literary-musical contests among children in the elementary and secondary levels. The contests are declamation for elementary pupils and oration for high school students and are organized with the cooperation of the Department of Education.
The contest pieces are in English. Elimination rounds were held in the different school divisions around the province.
The third contest is balitaw among secondary students. Balitaw is a Cebuano art form where the two protagonists sing their lines instead of merely speaking them out.
Themes vary from simple to complex topics to be argued upon by the protagonists.
The final round for the three contests is scheduled on Fri., Oct. 17, at the provincial Capitol starting at 4 p.m.
On the other hand, to create awareness for the movie, a press conference was held at the Vice Governor’s conference room last Oct. 1. Jacco Groen, the director; Eunice de Asis, consultant of Springfilm Foundation and the producer; Dr. Alwin de Leon of Terre des Hommes of the Netherlands; and Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale were there to entertain questions from the Capitol beat reporters.
Lilet Never Happened tells the story of an 11-year-old girl who was raped by her stepfather and was later forced into prostitution by her own mother. The movie likewise mirrors the occurrence of child exploitation in the Philippines, which the director reportedly observed 11 years ago.
De Asis narrated how they met difficulties when they started filming the movie. Authorities who were either on denial on the issue or who were clueless as to the current state of child prostitution in the country were indifferent to their requests for assistance.
The situation, however, began to change when the movie started winning awards in film festivals outside the country. The foundation’s efforts were suddenly recognized and acknowledged.
De Asis was very thankful to Magpale who immediately approved of their request for support ”without batting an eyelash.” She added that the foundation “found an ally in the movement against child exploitation and prostitution.”
The foundation plans to approach important personalities in the national government and in the movie industry so that the movie Lilet Never Happened will be able to enjoy a commercial run in movie houses around the country and reach as many audiences as possible.
On the day of the screening, Dr. Julian Vasallo, European Union political counsellor, paid a courtesy call at Vice Gov. Magpale. The EU official pledged to work hand in hand with Cebu officials in the campaign against the trafficking of women and children.
With the official was the movie’s lead actress, Sandy Talag, who is now 16 years old. The child actress has so far received two best actress awards from two foreign film festivals and has been recognized and honored by the Bulacan local government on the day of the press conference, the reason why she was not able to come to Cebu that day.