More than 800 students joined this year’s first Inquirer Read-Along session outside the newspaper’s offices on Friday at Calvario Elementary School in Meycauayan, Bulacan. It was one of the biggest Read-Along audiences since the program began in 2007.
TV5 actress Jasmine Curtis read, “Ang Batang Natutong Magkusa sa Paggawa (The Child Who Took the Initiative)” by Rene Villanueva, which is about a prince who learns the importance of doing things on his own, while veteran Read-Along storytellers from Sophia School regaled the crowd with their retelling of “Beybi Bibi” by Leoncio Ricarte, about a duckling’s quest to learn how to quack.
The special session, which revolved around the theme, “Salamat Po: Gratitude for Life’s Blessings,” was the culminating activity of Sophia School’s six-month outreach program in Calvario.
Since August, Sophia had been holding weekly storytelling and feeding sessions for Calvario students and seminars for their teachers. It was also part of Sophia School’s monthlong 18th anniversary celebration.
Apart from the storytelling segments, the children were treated to dance numbers performed by Sophia students—“Biyaya” and “Lukso, Lukso.”
Sophia teachers opened the event with an energetic dance to the song, “Pag-ibig Tulad ng Batis,” all the while encouraging the kids to mimic their moves.
“It was nice to see the students listening. They were so lively and full of energy despite the noontime heat. I loved seeing their smiles,” said Curtis, whose entrance was greeted with shrieks from both the children and adults in the audience.
Curtis said it was her elder sister Anne, another popular actress-singer, who encouraged her to read. “I wasn’t a book lover to begin with,” she said. “I only learned to love reading through my sister.”
“Sophia School has helped our school and our students a lot with their outreach program. They have been with us since last year and for that we are thankful,” said Calvario principal Jerry Camacho.
“Our students learned many things from today’s Read-Along session,” he added.
For fourth grader Shaira Andaya, 10, “Ate Jasmine” was her favorite storyteller.
“I was really happy during Ate Jasmine’s storytelling,” she said. “I learned that I should do some things on my own and not ask others to always do them for me. I also learned to be more obedient to my parents.”
Learning a lot
Jefferson Banaag, 13, also liked Curtis’ reading segment. “I’m happy to have been able to listen to Ate Jasmine read,” he said. “I learned a lot, especially about good manners.”
For 9-year-old Grade 2 pupil Princess Sarah Sapin, the Sophia School teachers’ retelling of “Beybi Bibi” was her favorite. “I enjoyed the story because their storytelling was beautiful,” she said.
Sophia high school students helped by acting as marshals and distributing the food and giveaways after the program. “I’m just glad to be able to help students who are younger than I am,” said freshman Tyrone Joseph Sillano.
“Their number almost overwhelmed us,” admitted his classmate Patricia Anne Martin. “But in the end, we were just really happy to be able to help our fellow students.”
Dominique Gabrielle Sarza, 16 and a senior, has been with Read-Along since the sixth grade. She was among the student leaders of the Friday event.
Tiring but worth it
“It was tiring, but it was all worth it,” she said. “Whenever we saw the kids smile, it really warmed our hearts.”
Sarza was among the senior students who had been participating in the weekly storytelling and feeding program since August.
After the session, the kids were treated to veggie burgers courtesy of the Sophia School students and their parents and healthy juice from Max’s. Prizes for the question and answer portions were courtesy of Adarna House, Vibal Publishing, Metrobank (Meycauayan-Malhakan branch) and Globe Telecom.
Calvario students also received giveaways courtesy of National Book Store, the United States Agency for International Development and the Rotary Club of Makati.
Friday’s session, hosted by Junior Inquirer editor Ruth Navarra and Sophia School principal Ann Abacan, was conducted in cooperation with Jaja Castro and Apple Maglinte of TV5, Rio Brigino and Batch Marasigan of Vibal, and Ergoe Tinio of Adarna. With reports from Kate Pedroso, Inquirer Research, and Odeng Orolaza and Jacqueline Cobrador, Inquirer Library