It was a morning filled with dreams, ambitions and inspiration. Gathered in three classrooms converted into one big hall, almost a hundred children, with their teachers and parents seated at the back, shared what they aspired to become in the future.
Some wanted to be a policeman, while others chose to be a doctor, nurse or engineer, or simply get rich.
The Grade 1 pupils of Buraguis Elementary School shared their wishes in the Inquirer Read-Along held in Legazpi City on Nov. 9, in partnership with the Junior Chamber International (JCI) chapter in Legazpi and the Mayon Photography Club Inc. (MPCI).
It was the culminating activity of the two groups’ “Trick or Treat” Project. Children were asked to draw their dreams and ambitions on papers and pasted these on a box. The boxes were sent to donors on Halloween Night to fill them up with a year’s basic school supplies.
John Glenn Lee, project chair, said the groups hoped to reduce the dropout rate of students in Buraguis, which was ranked by the Department of Education (DepEd) as one of the city schools with the biggest number of students not being able to graduate.
According to the DepEd’s 2007 records, the cohort survival rate (CSR) of Buraguis Elementary School was 45.05 percent. The CSR is the percentage of students who enrolled in Grade 1 and those who finished elementary education.
One of the reasons for the dismal performance is economics. Parents could not afford to send their children to school, Lee said. “We want to help address this by giving them some of their basic school needs.”
Nilo Berjuega, the school principal, said programs were being undertaken to address the problem.
To inspire the children to pursue their dreams, Generosa Deocariza, a dentist and dentistry teacher who graduated from the school, was invited to read for them.
She gamely interacted with the young listeners as she read “Si Pilong Patago-tago” (Pilong Who Loved to Hide), a story of a mischievous boy who loved to play hide and seek. The story was written by Kristine Canon.
Ferdinand Mallorca, 6, said he didn’t like Pilong because “he’s very naughty and doesn’t follow what his mother says.” In the story, Pilong got lost inside a department store while hiding from his mother.
Mallorca said he wanted to be a doctor someday. His mother Anna, 47, works as a part-time laundry woman while her husband is a carpenter.
Despite the hardships, Anna said she would try to support her son.
Jeremy Sabalboro, 6, was one of the many children who wanted to become policemen. He listened intently when Police Officer Charmaine Balete of the human resources of Legazpi police, narrated the story of “Tiktaktok at Pikpakbum,” written by Rene Villanueva.
The story tells of two brothers who often fought but remained friends in the end, when Tiktaktok saved his brother Pikpakbum after eating poisoned meat.
“Like Ate Charmaine, I also want to be a policeman because I want to protect and defend the people,” Sabalboro said.
Berjuega said “we saw how happy the children were and we hope it would inspire them to finish their studies.”
At the end of the reading session, members of the JCI and MPCI distributed boxes filled with notebooks, pencils, crayons, glue, erasers and pad paper, among other school items.
Lee said he hoped that the project, to be called “Box of Dreams,” could help reduce the dropout rate of students in the city and encourage them to read, study and pursue their dreams.