MANILA, Philippines—Around 100 children helped slay a terrible dragon, met a cunning snake and learned the joys of brotherhood at Saturday’s Inquirer Read-Along, which was held in celebration of the Chinese New Year.
Walking the children through these adventures were Chinese-Filipino basketball players Chris Tiu and Jeric Teng, University of Santo Tomas (UST) cager Ed Daquioag and Alitaptap president Posh Develos.
The read-along was held at the Inquirer multipurpose hall, which was decked with red and white balloons, Chinese lanterns and little red envelopes called ang pao. It kicked off with a special dragon dance number by Xavier School students.
Inquirer Libre editor-in-chief Chito de la Vega, who hosted the program, prepared a special Chinese New Year slide presentation for the children.
Returning storyteller Tiu read “La-on and the 7-Headed Dragon,” as retold by Gabby Lee and Marcy Dans Lee, a story about the legend of Mt. Kanlaon.
“I had a lot of fun with the kids. They were very attentive. It was a bit of a challenge for me to read in Filipino but I’m happy that the children seemed to understand the story. It was very fulfilling,” said Tiu, who plays for the PBA team Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
Develos, who read Segundo Matias Jr.’s “Alamat ng Ahas,” has worked with Tiu in the storytelling program.
“I was a reader for Chris’ reading program around schools and barangays in Makati last year,” Develos said. “I think we had around five sessions, all held on Saturdays.”
Teng and Daquioag, both players for the UST Growling Tigers, capped the session with Nanoy Rafael’s “Naku, Nakuu, Nakuuu!,” a story about a boy’s anxiety about having a new sibling.
“I hope the children learned from us today that they should not see their siblings as competition for attention but as someone they could always count on,” Teng said.
‘Naku, Nakuu, Nakuuu!’
Ten-year-old Christine Laiza del Rosario, who was accompanied by her mother, Mylene, to the session, shared that she particularly loved “Naku, Nakuu, Nakuuu!”
“I learned how lucky I am to have my siblings. I will be a better sister to them by understanding their needs more,” she added.
For 11-year-old Rob Carlos Unabia, who was accompanied by his mother, Aimee, all the stories were equally enjoyable because “there were lessons to be learned from all of them.”
At the start of the session, 14 students from Xavier’s Dragon and Lion Dance Troupe performed a special dragon dance number—complete with loud drums—around the Inquirer office’s spiral staircase, a ritual that is said to bring good luck and drive away evil spirits.
“The dance actually depicts the dragon chasing the moon because it wants to eat the moon,” said the group’s coach, Dexter Cua, who accompanied the students along with Jessie Ang of Xavier’s Chinese Administrative Matters office.
“The dancers train thrice a week for the whole year but the group is busiest during Chinese New Year,” explained Cua. “They have to be physically fit, to build on their endurance and stamina.”
The group, composed of Grade 7 to fourth year high school students, was formed in 2002 and eventually became one of Xavier’s varsity groups.
“We’re like a dynasty—the first dragon dancers were actually older brothers of the succeeding batches,” Cua added. “After they graduate, older members usually encourage their younger brothers to join the group.”—Reports from Schatzi Quodala, Kate Pedroso, Marielle Medina, Inquirer Research; and Odeng Orolaza and Jackieh Cobrador, Inquirer Library