Front Row: Orphaned, a documentary produced and broadcast by GMA Network, has won the 2014 Asia-Pacific Child Rights Award for Television. The programme highlights the plight of vulnerable children in the Philippines, where approximately 1.8 million children are abandoned or neglected.
The Award was established by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), CASBAA and UNICEF in 2001. It recognises the efforts of broadcasters and producers in pursuing high quality children’s television and better coverage of children’s issues, and is given each year to the best programme on children’s rights produced in the Asia-Pacific region. This year’s award was presented at the ABU General Assembly in Macau.
The winning documentary follows the daily life of 10-year-old Princess, who has had to take care of three younger siblings since their mother abandoned the children. Princess works at a wet market as a produce washer. She receives five to 20 pesos (0.1 to 0.5 U.S. cents) for her work. After working for the entire morning, Princess then proceeds to her second job, gathering and selling her neighbour’s rubbish. She has to do this every day to feed herself and her siblings.
“I haven’t seen my mom since she left us three years ago,” Princess said. “We started scavenging to get some money and asking around for food. Sometimes we don’t have anything to eat and our stomachs hurt. We sleep on cardboard boxes on the floor. I envy my friends because they go to school but I don’t.”
Front Row: Orphaned was praised by the jurors for reflecting the vulnerable children’s world through their own eyes. “It was very effective,” they said. “There are many heart-breaking moments in this film. The interviews were handled with sensitivity and the three children came across as everyday kids. Their interaction during bath and meal times was very naturalistic, as if the cameras weren’t there. This is a powerful story that really captured the plight of these children.”