More than 80 kids from Barangay Poblacion in Makati City experienced a different kind of fiesta on Saturday afternoon.
Instead of the usual games and contests, the children were treated to a festival of stories narrated by guest storytellers Makati Rep. Monique Lagdameo, singer and actor Lance Raymundo, barangay officials Arcel Crisolo and Serge Santos, and returning storyteller Rich Rodriguez, during Saturday afternoon’s Inquirer Read-Along session.
The session, which was held at the Makati Sporting Multi-Purpose Hall on Mabini Street, was part of the barangay’s fiesta celebration. The four-part storytelling session kicked off with Lagdameo’s reading of “Juan Tamad (Lazy Juan)” as retold by Rene Villanueva, while Raymundo read “Si Isem sa Bayang Bawal Tumawa (Isem in Grumpy Town),” a story by Eugene Evasco about a kingdom where no one is allowed to laugh until a newcomer named Isem transforms the kingdom into a happier place.
Barangay officials Crisolo, Poblacion’s kagawad, and Santos, Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) coordinator, did a joint reading of “The Grand Parade” by Carla Pacis and Nanoy Rafael, a story about a group of children who come together to save their town’s fiesta by forming their own band. Returning storyteller Rodriguez, meanwhile, did a wacky reading of Rene Villanueva’s “The Zimbragatzees of the Planet Zing,” a story about the dangers of pollution.
Reading as fun
Event organizer Anna Marie Tan of the Makati Sporting Club, a regular Read-Along partner, said they decided to include a Read-Along session as part of their barangay’s festivities because they “thought it would be fun for the kids.”
“We usually bring children to the Inquirer office every Read-Along, and each time the children seem to really enjoy their experience. We think that activities like these help children to see reading as fun,” she said.
Lagdameo, representative of the first district of Makati, said that despite her busy schedule, she made sure to make time for the kids. “I’m a product of the youth sector, so I always make it a point to make children one of my top priorities,” she said, adding that programs like the Read-Along are “important.”
Veteran storyteller Raymundo said he felt “happy that the children seemed to enjoy the story.”
The actor said one of the reasons he loved to promote reading was because he “did not grow up to be a reader.”
“When I was young, I would focus more on sports and other activities. It was only fairly recently that I realized how much I had been missing because I was not reading. It is because of this that I would like children to realize the importance of reading at an early age,” said Raymundo, who has three movies coming out this year (“Mga Alaala ng Tag-Ulan,” “Aninag” and “Babang Luksa”), as well as a stage play (“Solo Para Adultos”).
Both first-time storytellers, barangay officials Crisolo and Santos said the Read-Along was “a fun experience.”
“We’re both used to interacting with kids because of our involvement with the barangay, but this was a different kind of experience. I am happy that I was able to be part of this,” Crisolo said.
Rodriguez, who was recently hospitalized due to dehydration, showed no signs of weakness as he interacted with the children. “I could not cancel (my participation). I was just thinking that I had to do this for the kids,” he said.
For 11-year-old Janika Cadiz, “The Zimbragatzees of the Planet Zing” had the biggest impact on her. “It was my favorite. It made me realize that I should always maintain cleanliness not only at home, but everywhere,” she said.
Twelve-year-old Elbert Reyes shared the same sentiment, adding that he also learned to “take care of the environment” from the story.
Saturday’s Read-Along session, hosted by Bianca Kasilag of Inquirer Corporate Affairs, was held in cooperation with Barangay Poblacion, Rep. Monique Lagdameo, Maning Flores, Barangay Chair Benhur Cruz, Kagawad Perry Parong, SK Chair Pocholo Villena, Pete Dadula and Edgardo Tan. Prizes given away during the question-and-answer portion were courtesy of Lagdameo’s office and the Rotary Club of Makati. With a report from Roxanne Abad, Inquirer Library