HIM about the T’bolis, an indigenous group
in southern Philippines. Ask him about iodised salt consumption.
Ask him about the town’s children’s day celebration.
Ask him about enrolment in day care centers. Ask him about
anything on the situation of children in his town of Maitum
and he will surely have an answer.
George Yabes, 58, walks the talk. An elected leader since
2001, Mayor George has steered Maitum to its current status
as the most child-friendly municipality in the Philippines.
In 2003, Maitum joined an annual search of the national government
for the first time and bested other more seasoned finalists.
Maitum is one of seven towns in Sarangani, a province on the
southernmost tip of the Philippines.
to the search’s awards committee, Maitum won for its
Knowledge Center for Children and Women and other projects
that promote the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The
contest mechanics involves the submission of accomplishment
reports. These reports will be validated through a monitoring
visit by the search’s representatives.
the search’s monitoring team came, I volunteered to
drive them to the most far-flung community and let them see
that what we reported was no fluke,” Mayor George said.
At the town hall, Mayor George ushered the visitors into the
Knowledge Center where all the information the monitoring
team needed was at their fingertips.
Center is a resource center where statistics and reports on
the state of children and their families are available in
different presentation formats. Covering the walls are various
graphs and charts on key indicators on development. One corner
has a whole wall of profiles of the communities. The center
also has a computer unit with a DevInfo database. The DevInfo
is a software tool that stores data on children.
of Maitum inspired other towns in Sarangani to set up their
own centers. Maitum won one million pesos. “I divided
the prize to cover all of our 19 communities.” Each
village used their share to set up a playground. At the town
center, Mayor George allotted funds to improve the maternal
up Knowledge Centers is one of UNICEF’s flagship projects
on communication and child-friendly governance. Local government
units are encouraged to become more accountable by putting
value on information. UNICEF believes that with accurate information,
local resources can be wisely spent for children’s programs.
is easy to memorize facts,” Mayor George said. “But
making sense out of all these facts is the key to doing what
is right for children.”