This year, as UNICEF commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Convention of the  Rights of the Child, Creative Kids Studio, in partnership with Alabang Town Center, is celebrating the Filipino child’s “right to play” by holding “LARO” from May 12 to 31, 2015 at the Activity Center of the Alabang Town Center.  “LARO” goes back to the fun and excitement of traditional Filipino games – combining an art exhibit-cum-sale, competition, a fashion show featuring play wear by some of the fashion industry’s most prolific designers, a community art activity, a photo exhibit, and interactive storytelling.

The event, a collaboration between Creative Kids Studio, Alabang Town Center, and Tukod Foundation, aims to raise funds for UNICEF Philippines and the construction of a thematic, child-friendly playground in Calauan, Laguna to benefit more than 7,000 children, mostly survivors of Typhoons Ondoy and Yolanda.

“We wanted to give them the space where they can forget the ordeals they went through and be children again. With the playground, we hope they can discover the joys of being a child again – to be free to run, to have the chance to let their imaginations fly, to simply forget the harsh realities of life, and find enjoyment in the simple things,” explains Creative Kids’ founder Bambi Tanjutco.

Art as a Way of Giving Back

Tukod Managing Director Denise S. Mañosa, VP/ Treasurer Francisco "Dino" Mañosa, Trustee Miguel Angelo Mañosa, Corporate Secretary Bambi Mañosa-Tanjutco with husband Mr.  Vince Tanjutcoand daughters Natasha and Isabela Tanjutco

Isabel “Bambi” Mañosa-Tanjutco, born to internationally-renowned architect Francisco T. Mañosa and civic leader Denise S. Mañosa, grew up not just amid things of beauty. Having graduated as an Interior Designer from the Assumption College she used to work in her father’s firm, Francisco Mañosa and Partners, where she learned, among other things of real value, the art of giving back.

Tells Tanjutco, “My father was a great believer in the principle of “paying it forward.”   In his office, you were not just an architect, or an interior designer, or a graphic artist. He encouraged his people to take up other vocations that would help enrich people because he himself loved to share his knowledge.

When I started giving summer art lessons and found my passion in teaching, he advised me to teach Art Education so that I would gain a more comprehensive knowledge in art and develop my skill in teaching. That was the reason I subsequently took my MA in Art Education at UP.”

Her desire to reach out to children eventually got her involved in various outreach projects with the Muntinlupa Development Foundation (MDF) in the late ’80s when she taught art to indigent children in the city. She also lent her skill as a designer for the MDF’s annual Christmas fundraising activity, the famous “Big Bang sa Alabang.”

Even after putting up her own school, Creative Kids Studio in 1995, Tanjutco continuously sought ways to serve victims, the less fortunate, the marginalized, and the unwanted. She readily partnered with foundations that needed her skill and expertise in teaching art and relating to children.

In one interview, Tanjutco had this to say about the essence of art: “Art is about being able to share that something beautiful with other people, bringing a little bit of color and joy to another person’s life, even just for a moment. If there’s anything I learned from art and beauty, it’s that they don’t mean much if they can’t be shared.”

Project LARO
It was two years ago when the Executive Director of the Consuelo Algiers Foundation approached Tanjutco to help refurbish three housing units in the Calauan, Laguna. The units, located in a resettlement area, were being lent by the National Housing Authority to Fr. Salvador “Boy” Pablo to house 30 orphaned children from Tacloban.

In one of her visits to the project, Tanjutco heard the Salesian priest lament about how “hope was a rare commodity in the area.” The priest was looking for a way to inspire and encourage the more than 7,000 children under his care.

“At around the same time, Tukod Foundation had just finished constructing a playground in a resettlement area for the survivors of Typhoon Sendong in Cagayan de Oro.  Built for the children of the resettlement area, the playground soon attracted children from all over. Some traveled for two hours just to play there. So we realized how important it was for them to have a facility where they can enjoy being children again,” relates Tukod Foundation managing director Mrs. Denise S. Mañosa.

Knowing how play can have a positive impact on children, Tanjutco sought the help of Tukod Foundation to design a playground in the property. Fr. Boy thought the idea
totally apt since playing is the spirituality of the Salesian order. So, Tanjutco together with her daughters Natasha and Isabella, created “LARO” to raise funds for the playground project.

Giving Through Playing

“My husband and I are so blessed to have daughters who share our passion in giving to others. Most often, children are involved in fundraising activities in only a very limited way such as donating goods and repacking them. Both Natasha and Isabella wanted to really get involved in the lives of the recipients. They knew early on that children can also give their time, their talent, and their friendship to make less-fortunate children be happier,” she tells.

Natasha thought of putting up “Kids for Kids,” a movement to involve children in helping other children through the use of social media and other creative projects. The idea inspired Bambi to bring Creative Kids to a close and lend her skill to "Kids for Kids.” 

“After 20 years, I felt it was time to evolve into a state with a higher purpose. Creative Kids Studio has seen the development of children through the power of art. Now, we wanted to utilize the skills they have learned in helping others. In doing so, we felt that we were helping them develop a sense of compassion and empathy for others who may not be so fortunate in life. Hopefully, through this, we can create a new generation of adults who have in them the natural capacity to give and share,” says Tanjutco.

To raise funds for Project LARO, among other civic efforts by Tukod Foundation, and to help reiterate UNICEF’s Rights of the Child, Tanjutco designed “LARO” to integrate play and art as a means to donate.

“LARO” includes the following activities:

"Paint It Forward" 
(May 12 to 26) is an exhibitsale featuring 100 artworks of the young artists of Creative Kids Studio.

Tara, Laro” 
(May 16 and 17) is a game competition in various traditional Filipino games including Patintero, Luksong Tinik, and Tumbang Preso in a mall setting.

“Community Art and Photo Exhibit” 
(May 12 to 31) is an art and crafts making, where the entire community can participate. The artwork will be donated to the Pangarap Center. This event also features photographs by Artu Nepomuceno of the children from the resettlement site in Calauan, Laguna. Guests can participate by either “adopting a child,”  or by decorating the mural.  Toy donations will also be accepted.    

“Interactive Storytelling” 
(May 23 and 24) is storytelling using a theatrelike approach It will bring Filipino stories to life by making the experience interactive and immersive for children.
“Laro Fashion Show” (May 30) features merchants of the Alabang Town Center:  Gingersnaps; Peppermint; TOMS; Justice; Anemone; Metro; Periwinkle,  and a showcase of children’s wear made of fabrics from all over the Philippines. Participating designers include Rhett Eala, Rajo Laurel, Len Cabili, Elsie Standen, Ito Curata, and Ann Ong.

“LARO” is also Tanjutco’s personal way of paying tribute to her father. “Most people know him as an architect whose pioneering works have inspired generations of architects after him. Very few know his playful side. When we were young, he declared it a vacation every time it rained hard. We would absent ourselves from school and he would come home early to play with us. He also designed toys for children that would bring us hours of amusement,” she reveals.

With a smile, she adds, “My father once said that he never worked a day in his life. It was true, you know, because he always found pleasure in everything that he did; to him it was all play. That is probably his best gift to me – to derive enjoyment in everything that I do so that I am bound to do them with passion and a real sense of happiness.”

Project LARO is co-presented by Cherifer, SMART Infinity, and Mañosa Properties Inc and supported by Standard and Shakey’s.   

For more information