A 16-km line of readers in Antique townBy Nestor P. Burgos Jr. |Inquirer Visayas
People of Pandan town in Antique province might have read their way into history.
At least 10,000 of them, mostly elementary and high school students, formed a line along the 16-kilometer stretch of the national highway and held a simultaneous “read-aloud” of the same story to mark National Reading Day on Nov. 27.
Organizers claimed that Pandan might have set a world record since they had yet to come across a similar activity with as many participants.
Reports of world records on reading dealt with the longest continued reading, the most number of readers of a book or story in a single day by readers in a country or community and other categories.
Leo Dioso, a former UN official and one of the organizers, said his group’s documentation of the Pandan activity would be submitted to the Guinness World Records for verification.
Some 7,000 students from 35 public elementary schools and high schools and three private schools took part in the activity—the first to be held in Pandan, which has a population of 34,000 and 34 barangays, and located 124 km north of the capital town of San Jose.
Days of practice
“They were excited. They had been practicing for days,” said Lezlie Sanchez, a Grade 2 teacher of Pandan Central School.
At least 3,000 parents, municipal and barangay officials, and representatives of nongovernment organizations joined the event.
On signal from the community radio station dyNC, they read the 11-paragraph text of the popular Anglican hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful.”
Mayor Jonathan Tan and three other residents led the reading through the radio broadcast.
“Reading is important, especially now that our children are easily distracted by television and the Internet,” said Faustino Castillo, 42, who came with his 7-year-old daughter Eirisse.
Hazel Ecol, 35, who brought along her two sons, Kurt Shannon, 5, and John Simon, 12, said, “We need to read to increase our knowledge and be updated. This is a good way of encouraging parents to also continue reading.”
Seven upland barangays held the reading activity in their communities.
Norma Dioso, a former vice mayor, said the organizers had wanted the 18-km read-along line unbroken from the boundary of Pandan and Libertad towns in the north to Pandan-Sebaste in the south. There were 1-meter gaps, however, due to coordination problems.
Fifteen policemen stopped vehicular traffic along the highway for five minutes while the people were reading, said Insp. Jose Partisala, municipal police chief. Some 170 village watchmen and other volunteers also assisted the organizers.
Dioso, who donated a modern library to the municipality, said he hoped the mass reading rally would encourage adults to visit and borrow books. The library keeps some 25,000 books.
“We hope people will understand more that the best alternative to continuing our education is through reading,” Dioso said.
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