WATCH: Can boys play with dolls?

Meet Angelo, an 8-year-old boy who loves art, books, and dolls. Here’s why children should be allowed to express themselves, free form all forms of discrimination.

Type: Video

Toys are toys.

Both girls and boys can play with dolls.

In Manila, we met Rowena and Angelo.

This mother and son duo is challenging misconceptions among Filipino families – that boys should act this way, and girls that way.

Angelo loves to play with Barbie dolls. He also collects stickers of Disney characters, like Elsa of Frozen.

In the Philippines, some adults frown upon children like Angelo. They view Angelo’s hobbies as too “feminine,” hence should not be done by boys.

But not Rowena. She sees nothing wrong with Angelo playing with dolls.

“Me and his dad, we don’t disapprove of whatever our son’s gender may be,” Rowena said in Filipino. “What’s important is we guide him through proper education.”

Can boys play with dolls?


Aside from dolls, Angelo is fascinated with art.

He saves his allowance to buy dolls and art materials. Using his savings, Angelo also bought a pet fish and an aquarium

Rowena loves to share this anecdote whenever someone asks about Angelo’s passion for the arts: One day, Rowena was looking for the little boy. She figured her son was at the newly opened Internet shop, so she went to pick him up.

“I thought Angelo was playing computer games,” Rowena said. “But when I arrived at the Internet shop, I saw that he wasn’t playing shooting games like the other kids.”

“He was painting using a computer program,” Rowena said, smiling.

Judging children for the way they look or act is unfair.

Such way of thinking is a form of gender-based discrimination, which limits children’s choices, actions, and opportunities

Gender-based discrimination stops children from freely expressing themselves.

Children should have the freedom to choose what kinds of toys they want, what colors to wear, and the like.

Instead of forcing children to act “like a girl” or “like a boy,” parents should love and accept children for who they are.

Can boys play with dolls?

Smart child

Angelo also loves to read. "He’s always on top of his classes,” Rowena shared. "He wants to be a doctor someday."

“But we don’t pressure him at school,” the proud mom added. “We’re proud of him, whatever he achieves.”

Angelo learned to read through First Read, Save the Children’s program that teaches children ages 0-5 how to read, write, and count.

At 8 years old, Angelo has now read several stories and is hungry for more.

While Angelo was learning at First Read, Rowena was also learning about proper childcare and nutrition through Save the Children’s Parent Education Sessions.

The sessions taught Rowena how to make children enjoy vegetable dishes. As a result, Angelo grew up fond of veggies. His favorite dish is monggo (mung bean) soup.

Can boys play with dolls?


The day was about to end and Angelo was just wrapping up his reading.

He clutched a small Winnie the Pooh doll as he closed his book. Now he has to feed his pet fish, while his mom prepared their vegetable dinner.

Help us support more loving families like Rowena and Angelo’s.

All children deserve love and acceptance, no ifs and buts.

Your simple donation helps us train more parents like Rowena, teaching them not only about proper childcare – but also about gender, respect, and diversity among children.

Empower families, save children!

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Save the Children - the world's leading independent children's organization - has been working in the Philippines for over three decades and is dedicated to helping children.

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Period: January 16, 2023 to January 17, 2024

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