Some 80 Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts camping on their school grounds in the upland village of Tala in Orani, Bataan, last week got what a mother remarked aloud as a “bonus” to the outdoor activity.
The bonus was an Inquirer Read-along session where “Si Emang Engkantada at ang Tatlong Haragan (Emang the Fairy and the Three Bullies),” written by the late Rene Villanueva and illustrated by R. Jordan Santos, was read to them.
Judging from the faces and reactions of these pupils and their parents, the session engaged them alternately in awe, silence, surprise and joy.
Thanks to the animated reading by Felicito Payumo, chair of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, and four Teatro Fernandino artists who acted the characters and spoke their lines in the story.
Aside from the mix of reading and performance, Payumo offered visual experience by flashing on a wide screen photographs of scenes of destruction wrought by Tropical Storm “Sendong” in December 2011, by the monsoon-induced rains and floods in August, and by Typhoon “Pablo” this month.
The pictures were his way of telling the children that Mother Nature, personified by Emang, can be harsh at times.
Payumo, who lives in a farm-resort in the village, believed that children play a big role in saving the forests of Orani and the rest of the Bataan National Park against illegal logging and destructive farming practices.
“The future is theirs, and so they must help take care of the forests even at a young age,” he said.
The children turned out to be rapt listeners.
“The story tells us to take care of our environment, to save on water and to plant many trees,” Johan, a Grade 4 pupil, said. He remembered the antagonists well—Pat Kalat (Pat the litterbug), Pol Putol (Pol the tree cutter) and Paz Waldas (Paz the extravagant).
“Reading is fun,” said another pupil, Jenna, of the experience. Toward the end of the program, she was engrossed in a book the Inquirer gave to the group. Tonette Orejas