It was three years in the making, but a book that teaches the next generation about consent and boundaries still cannot come at a much better time than now.
“I Love My Body,” or “Mahal Ko ang Aking Katawan” as translated to Filipino by Gantala Press Founder Faye Cura, is a children’s book written by feminist artist Nikki Luna and illustrated by Julienne Dadivas. It was originally published in 2017 by Power in Her Story (PIHS), a publishing house whose works aim to empower women of all ages.
The book was initially disseminated to underprivileged communities for free to teach children about body autonomy and consent. Today, everyone can now access the material online, as the story has been transformed into video narrated and acted out by veteran actress Angel Aquino.
Spoken in a light, obliging tone in the Filipino language, Aquino plays out the story’s reminder to children that their bodies are theirs and theirs alone.
Aquino prefaces her performance with a hope: “Sana makatulong para ipaalam kung gaano ka-importante ang pangangalaga at pag-iingat natin sa ating mga katawan. Ito ay atin, at atin lamang. Kaya kayong mga bata, tandaan ninyo, kahit mga bata pa lang kayo, [ang] katawan ninyo ay sa inyo lamang. Kayo lamang ang may karapatan dito.”
Even as the pandemic wreaks havoc, cases of child abuse still remain rampant, with the market of child pornography growing as a result of greater Internet accessibility. Now, with the same tool, PIHS hopes to enlighten both children and their corresponding teachers and guardians about both their right and responsibility to defend their own bodies, and their own dignity.