As the government wrapped up the observance of National Reading Month, President Aquino took time out from the usual affairs of state and presided over a “Day of Reading” at a Quezon City elementary school on Tuesday.
His pièce de résistance: A story called “Halo-halo Espesyal.”
The response of the audience was a unanimous “Masarap! (Delicious!)” when asked by the VIP storyteller how they enjoyed the tale about an ailing little girl named Jackie and the “medicines” that made her well, including a glass of ice-topped sweets cited in the story’s title.
Incidentally, Mr. Aquino’s health made headlines recently. About two weeks earlier, the President—who continues to smoke despite calls for him to quit—reportedly had a bout with the flu and rhinitis.
Still, the storytelling session at Teodora Alonzo Elementary School in Project 4 saw Mr. Aquino in a jovial mood. Speaking to the children after the reading, he said the story penned by Yvette Fereol reminded him of his own experiences as a young boy.
Like the character Jackie, he said, he got showered with affection by his late parents and grandparents. “All of us need to be loved. We will achieve much if all of us will love and support each other,” he said.
The story tells of Jackie who took various medicines given by her mother but only recovered from her week-long illness when her Lola Itang came to visit. Thanks to the yummy treats coming from her grandmother’s enchanted kitchen, including the popular Filipino dessert “halo-halo,” Jackie’s health was restored.
The storytelling session with the President was the culminating activity of the government’s month-long campaign promoting the love for reading among the young.
Quezon City Rep. Jorge John Banal Jr. noted that the President’s “special” participation coincided with the birth anniversary of Mr. Aquino’s late father, Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., who was known as a voracious reader.
“Day of Reading draws inspiration from the life of Ninoy who found hope and inspiration in the books and letters from his family during the dark years of his incarceration at Laur, Nueva Ecija,” the lawmaker said, referring to one of the elder Aquino’s ordeals during the Marcos dictatorship.
Before going to Quezon City for the storytelling session, the President on Tuesday attended Mass at his father’s tomb in Manila Memorial Park, Paranaque City.
From Project 4, Mr. Aquino motored to Sikatuna Village, also in Quezon City, and spent time with the pupils of Learning Tree Child Growth Center.
The Palace arranged the visit to the center after receiving “funny, warm and heartfelt” letters from some of the fourth and fifth graders of the school in July, according to the principal, Grace Mae Jornales.