"At every step, the child should be allowed
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to meet real experiences in life; the thorns
should never be plucked from his roses"
-Ellen Key, Swedish reformer and educationalist
The realities that besiege Philippine society nowadays greatly affect Filipinos, men, women, young and old. Children are at high risk of suffering the enormous effects of poverty, illiteracy, poor health and insurgency to name a few, effects which could corrupt their hearts and minds, and rob them of their "childhood" and future. At a young age, children do not have the grasp of understanding the realities that surround them; they become victims of circumstance, deprived of the opportunity to "grow", live a normal life that every child deserves, and undergo the holistic process of psychological development.
The film "Mga Munting Tinig" gives us a glimpse of the experiences of children in a rural community, living a simple life yet full of hardship, surrounded with illiteracy, hopelessness, and insurgency. The children's daily experiences at Malawig Elementary School, where the main character Melinda teaches and pupils like Popoy and Ida are schooling is an epitome of the still existing poor quality of education in rural schools, characterized by incompetent teaching staff, dilapidated buildings and equipments, scarcity of books, student absenteeism, and many other things considered "normal" and typical scenes in the localities that badly need concrete and immediate actions of the concerned agencies of the government.
The movie, generally, directly presents said irregularities in rural schools to the extent of "inferiorating" the image and competency of teachers, the "intentional" ignorance on the part of the supervisors and education officials to see the pitiable conditions of schools and students, and the government's continuing neglect of providing Filipino children quality education and their families' economic opportunities to fight poverty. Despite of this, the movie did not fail to highlight the "greatness" and the passion among teachers in educating children thirsty of nurturance and knowledge, as in the case of Melinda. The teaching profession is a noble profession as many people would say. Indeed, it is not an easy job to do. Self-less service, commitment, passion, and love for teaching and the students as well are the things, which I think, one need to possess to enjoy and live a life of a teacher.
As to the aspect of family, the movie presented a typical household environment in the barangays, basically big families, not well-educated, shattered houses, acute poverty, hard labor, and children working in the farms with the parents. This state of rural families undermines the importance of providing children a nurturing family and an environment needed for the good psychological development and well-being of children.
It is quite understandable, that children in the film, given the household environment they have as determined by their social and economic status and the community where they live, have adverse effects on their development as a person and member of their families and community. This is a sad fact among our fellow Filipinos, there is the utmost willingness on their part to have a better life, yet life seems to be cruel, opportunities of development are almost unheard and unreachable in rural areas.
"Mga Munting Tinig" is a film that presents not just the lives and struggles of children and families suffering in silence out there in the localities, it presents the two biggest problems this country is facing-massive poverty and low quality of education and limited access to it by the "masa".
To conclude, "Mga Munting Tinig" is a simple story with a deep "emotional impact" and euphoric, positive message-it teaches us to rise above the challenges of poverty, hopelessness, and illiteracy. It tells us to become "spreaders" of hope, affect positive change in people's lives, to aspire for things not only for personal sake but also for the "common good", and make those aspirations come true.