Tales of Disasters: Four Incredible Philippines Staff


A school principal (white shirt) in Rizal, Philippines, teaching puppetry to local primary and secondary school teachers after attending a No Strings training of trainers workshop

A school principal (white shirt) in Rizal, Philippines, teaching puppetry to local primary and secondary school teachers after attending a No Strings training of trainers workshop


Things can sometimes go so beyond your expectations, it’s hard to know where to begin. The following is what happened in a nutshell, but scroll down to read the four case studies if you can.

In March 2010, five senior school heads from the province of Rizal, Philippines, attended a No Strings regional training-of-trainers workshop in Cambodia. Inspired, they returned to their schools and developed a province-wide cascade training system, bringing senior teachers in for three-day workshops, and then sending them back to train every teacher in their school in best practice use of The Tales of Disasters films.

In doing so, the team has so far overseen the training of literally thousands of teachers, reaching huge numbers of elementary and secondary school students with preparedness and safety awareness information that can help save their lives.

Rizal, just east of Manila, suffered what many felt were the worst floods in living memory during Typhoon Ketsana (local name Ondoy) in October 2009; in August 2012, Typhoon Saola brought almost similar levels of flooding. It is this all-too-real experience of rapid climate change, along with a belief in the power of an awareness tool that is fun, that has motivated the team’s incredible efforts.

What follows are four short case studies revealing highly innovative uses of the film and hand puppetry tool in schools in the division.



Principal, Rodriguez Elementary School, Rizal

“One of the first things I did after watching the Flood / Landslide film was to take pupils and parents from my school and plant 2,000 mahogany trees on the mountain, in order to prevent landslides. The film has had a very big impact on how we connect the environment with disasters. 

Three quarters of my students suffered in Ondoy, and a few families died. They were trapped inside their house or the street and they could not do anything because they did not know what to do. After the training, no casualties have been reported during floods and typhoons here because they know what to do.

I think it’s important to reach both children and adults. Parents have to attend a compulsory general assembly before their child starts at this school, and we show the flood, earthquake and typhoon films then, and they enjoy it very much.

All teachers in my school are trained. They also use puppets to teach general lessons to engage pupils.” 



English Teacher, Binangonan, Talim Island, Lake Laguna de Bay, Rizal 

“As an English teacher, I’ve trained more than 100 student leaders in using puppetry to share the messages in the Tales of Disasters films with people in the community. We live on an island on Lake Laguna, and this is a really effective way of sharing the awareness. 

The stories for the puppet plays come from my students’ imaginations, based on the messages in the films. They do the scripts, make the puppets and props, and then perform them in the barangay (community) hall or basketball court. Children go out and tell people to come, and bring their parents. 

The puppet shows are now held in November every year. So in October, I’m doing the puppet show in the school and teaching students about disasters. We practice our show for two weeks, then in November we go to the community. We do two performances for about 80 people each.

My students really love doing puppetry. They put a lot of time and hard work. We prepare for two weeks so the children and others in the audience will enjoy watching it, and it will really encourage them to do what the puppets demonstrate.

We do all types of calamities, because I have seven groups who are preparing for the puppet show.

I think the programme changes children’s behaviour. After watching the show or film they are ready for the disaster that will be coming. The film and the puppets are effective because it motivates the children in the community and makes them really listen to what’s happening around.” 



Maths Teacher, Kasiglahan Village National High School, Rizal

“The teachers here in the Philippines are not shy. We have hundreds of students and we are handling 500 to 600 students every day. In my school, the average number is 100 students in a class. My school is in a relocation site. Mostly our students have come from different places around Metro Manila and some parts of Rizal. 

Some of them have been affected by disasters and have lost their houses. So our school is full of people from all over. Their new houses were provided by the government and measure only about 20 – 25 square metres. And there are on average six to ten people living in that house. Some parents are working, but most of them do not have a permanent job. They might run a bicycle taxi, where people only pay about five pesos. They are very poor.

The children like the puppetry VERY much, and I sometimes use it as one of their motivation techniques during maths. They are very surprised, wow, my teacher is doing puppetry!

I have also taught students to use puppetry. I asked them to make puppets, and to relate a disaster scene to maths using them. My students don’t like maths! They are about 14-15 years old. 

They did a show about earthquakes, incorporating messages from the film. Because their teacher asked them to finish their problem first, they have to make a decision – are they going to do what they’re told, or save their lives? It was their script, and they performed in front of the whole class.

Then I asked them to show their performance to other classes. They were very happy to do that. The audiences really enjoyed it and are always asking me, ma’am, can we also do this? 

They like the films very much, also their parents. I see a difference between before and after. There are some things they already know about, but they didn’t really know what to do in a disaster. 

If there is word that is higher than very good, that would be the right word to describe this programme. I can’t say enough about it.” 



Principal, Teresa District Elementary School

“The Tales of Disasters series is very effective and enhances pupil and teachers’ skills. The films also have a very wide perspective on disasters, especially regarding the environment. An offshoot of what we have learnt in the films is not to destroy the environment.

The Flood film motivates and encourages pupils to learn more and to be careful, and they have that care for the environment. Teachers participate actively in environmental issues through the Tales of Disasters programme, and as a result of seeing the films, we have introduced a segregation of waste system in the school. This means we separate plastic from papers, from leaves and plants. We have that there in the back of the school.

The municipal government of Teresa has now ranked our school as the best implementer of solid waste management. The ranking is posted on the front of the municipal hall, and that continues as motivation for pupils and teachers to do our best. It is changed every month and we want to keep it at the top so we are doing our best effort.

But I’m new to this school, and started in August. So far, we have trained five teachers in use of the programme, who will help me train the remainder. We will ask for assistance from the municipal government for food and training materials, and hold the training over three Saturdays in January. It will be compulsory to attend.

We already have a lot of improvised puppets made from socks or paper bags. Teachers are very resourceful and very creative, and so puppets will not be a problem. They will use recycled materials, even newspapers and plastic bottles, and they will perform role plays using the puppets to explore issues in the films. Children love to do it, and it is good for their writing skills also.

Children are now very aware to take only what they need, and to have an emergency bag. They don’t even mind if they have no money in their pockets, and they are much more concerned about their friends and relatives. Parents tell us they share information with them when they go home.”