Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, who, last year cited as "trailblazing" the memorandum of agreement between the DOLE's Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns and the St. Scholastica's College on eliminating the child labor menace, particularly its worst forms, yesterday received the prestigious Hildegarde Award for Outstanding Achievement in Development Communication.

The Award is one of five categories in the SSC's Hildegarde Awards For Women in Media and Communication, established by the College in 2007 in honor of Germany's St. Hildegarde von Bingen, "a mystic, scholar, musician, poet, painter, philosopher, herbalist and visionary", and considered a "prototype feminist in the patriarchal milieu of medieval Europe, . . . an outspoken advocate of ethical virtue who encouraged her congregation of religious women to articulate their own voices".

Baldoz received the Award from Sis. Celine Saplala of the SSC's Social Action Center for Batang Malaya, an anti-child labor communication campaign being jointly mounted by the DOLE, International Labor Organization, and the Federation of Free Workers and partners in the Philippines's National Child Labor Committee.

Giovanni Soledad of the ILO, Atty. Sonny Matula, president of the FFW, Director Anna Charisma Lobrin-Satumba of the BWSC, and Julius Cainglet, chairman of the NCLC's sub-committee on Child Labor Knowledge Sharing System, attended the 8th Hildegarde Awards rites (which coincided with the national celebration of International Women's Day) the highlights of which was the awarding of the Hildegarde Lifetime Achievement Award to famed international stage performer Monique Wilson.

The SSC established the Hildegarde Awards to celebrate women's achievements in the mass media and allied fields. It is the only Awards in the country that consistently recognizes women's achievements in media and communication.

In her message after accepting the Award, Baldoz thanked the SSC and acknowledged the cooperative work of the ILO, FFW, and all DOLE partners in the NCLC, which she said indicates how the child labor problem is being addressed in "many fronts."

"Nagpapasalamat ako at ang mga government, social,  at international partners ng DOLE sa St. Scholastica's College dahil sa pagkilala na ibinigay sa Batang Malaya, na isa sa mga istratehiya upang pigilan at puksain ang child labor dito sa Pilipinas.  Ang Batang Malaya ay may layunin na itaas pa ang kamalayan ng ating mga kababayan upang labanan ang child labor," she said.

She cited the SSC's Innah Corral, Charmaine Perillo, and Divina Cabil, who interned at the FFW and helped promote Batang Malaya through the the CLKSS website. The website contains practically all the relevant information on child labor in the Philippines.

She also emphasized that in 2012, the US Department of Labor has Global Report on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, the Philippines is one of 10 countries which has made significant advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.

"We have ratified ILO Convention 189 on Domestic Workers and passed both the Domestic Workers Act and the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act. In addition, we have launched the Child Labor-Free Barangay campaign and developed a new national Convergence Plan to reduce hazardous child labor. We have also expanded the Conditional Cash Transfer program to include child laborers and redesigned to include conditionality on child labor," said Baldoz.

To demonstrate government's serious effort to fight child labor, Baldoz said it has established the H.E.L.P. M.E. convergence program with a P9 billion budget spread over four years to provide focused, converged, and synchronized strategies  to effectively address the problem of child labor in the country.

"H.E.L.P. M.E. is a community-based approach whose strategy calls for bringing down the government's child labor programs and services in the barangay, the lowest echelon of governance," she said. H.E.L.P. stands for health, education, livelihood, and prevention, protection, and prosecution, while M.E. stands for monitoring and evaluation.

"H.E.L.P. M.E. will contribute to the realization of the country's Millennium Development Goal of eradicating poverty through decent work. By 2016, we aim to have freed at least 75 percent of the 2.9 million child laborers in the country. We are  vigorously implementing H.E.L.P. M.E. through stronger cooperation among partners to ensure that this target is achieved," she added.

Batang Malaya: Child Labor Free Philippines serves  as a venue to bring government agencies, NCLC members, employers' and workers' organizations, civil society, and former child laborers to unite and call for an end to the worst forms of child labor. One of the activities of the campaign was Lakas-Sipa sa Batang Malaya, a football clinic for child laborers recently freed from the scourge of child labor inaugurated in October last year.

The DOLE is also strongly implementing its Child Labor-Free Barangay Project, a barangay-based strategy to lick child labor by providing parents of child laborers with livelihood assistance so they may keep their children in schools.

As its contribution to the campaign, the SSC last year held a Stop and Shoot Anti-Child Labor Photo Competition, a brainchild of the three FFW interns, in partnership with the BWSC, FFW, and ILO. The competition culminated in signing of the DOLE-SSC agreement on sustaining the anti-child labor campaign. Under the agreement, DOLE and the SCC agreed to commit resources for raising awareness on child labor within the SSC community.

The other recipients of the Hildegarde Award for Outstanding Achievement in Development Communication were  Gabriela's "One Billion Rising"  and the multi-sectoral initiative, "One Million People March" of Peachy Bretana, et al.

In the broadcast media (television) category, "Salamat, Dok" of ABS-CBN; "History by Lourd de Vera" of TV 5; "Titser" and "Bayan Ko" of GMA News TV won the award; while "Usapang de Campanilla" of DZMM; "Health Matters" of DZUP; and "Voice of the Youth" of DZIQ, won for radio.

In the print and online journalism category, Shakira Sison's essays in Rappler on LGBTQI gay rights; Vera Files' series of articles on trafficking in the aftermath of super Typhoon "Yolanda"; and Domini Torrevillas's "Protecting Women in Media and Film" published by the Philippine Star won the award.

The Hildegarde Award for Outstanding Achievement in Advertising went to Eden Cheese, "Damang Dama" of J. Walter Thompson; Lucky Me, "Hapag-usapan" of Publicis Jimenez-Basic; and Pantene, "Whip It" of BBDO Guerrero.

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