CEBU CITY, Philippines — Nicolo Nasol, a copy editor of a publishing firm, had thought the Basadours was another group of people who simply loved reading books.
The group actually goes beyond reading and gives life to books, he learned after meeting some members and joining their activities.
“The group was beyond what I expected. I joined storytelling sessions initiated by the Basadours and I felt very happy that I wouldn’t be reading to myself anymore but also for children, who really are our future,” said Nasol, 23, of Tate Publishing.
“From there, it was like changing the world one story at a time,” he said.
The Basadours was organized in February 2012 by 15 individuals who saw the need for a group that would promote the love of reading through storytelling.
“All of us had some sort of relationship with the Cebu City Public Library (CCPL), which was in danger of closing down in 2008. It was logical that we promote the love of reading through storytelling in partnership with the CCPL,” said their chairperson, lawyer Melvin Legaspi.
Legaspi spent afternoons at the library while reviewing for the bar examinations in 2010 after finishing his law studies at the University of San Carlos.
“We barely knew each other when we started the Basadours. We came from diverse backgrounds. There were lawyers, filmmakers, nurses, students, librarians and journalists. Nobody really knows how the group will turn out,” he said.
“But we have one thing in common—we love books and we want that the children love them, too.”
Rosario Chua, CCPL chief librarian, said she was excited when she learned about the idea to form a group. As it was initiated mostly by young professionals, she said she was hopeful about the sustainability of the advocacy and confident about the passion of its members.
“It was inspiring to see them meeting almost every other day and discussing what they needed to do to spread the love of reading. We are blessed that they choose the library to be their partner because they contribute in making this place alive,” she said.
The Basadours launched the “I Love to Read Project Year 1” on Feb. 25, 2012, during the commemoration of the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution to emphasize reading as its contribution to nation-building.
Volunteers were trained for storytelling. Storytelling sessions were organized with nongovernment organizations, schools, barangays and businesses, and these included activities involving the children and legal aid forums for their parents.
The group also ensured that the children had a holistic experience, so arts and crafts activities, story writing and games were incorporated in the program.
“Wherever and whenever there was an invitation for us to tell stories, we grab it. We went to the mountains, to the urban barangays, to schools. We take leaves from our jobs to organize these sessions. We see to it that these children go home remembering their experience,” Legaspi said.
Legaspi said the group started organizing trademark Basadour events like “Istorya-Basa sa Library” (Storytelling at the Library), “Istorya-Basa sa Barrio” (Storytelling in the Villages) and “Storython” (A Storytelling Marathon).
Another initiative, “Story Hours,” was implemented in partnership with Banilad Town Center and the Philippine Daily Inquirer. It brought together children from private and public schools to participate in an afternoon of fun and learning, as well as a book drive, storytelling and story writing.
The partnership among the three institutions started in August 2012 after the signing of a memorandum of agreement. Since then, 10 Story Hours sessions have taken place, reaching out to close to 600 children from 15 schools, one barangay and two Gawad Kalinga’s Sibol Schools.
Each session can accommodate at most 60 children. Storytellers were invited to read to them, while the Basadours facilitated the story writing.
From August 2012 to this June, a total of 28 stories were written by the children themselves and are now in book form titled “Our Stories: A Compilation of Stories Written by Children During the Story Hours.” Eight artists rendered the illustrations.
The book will be presented to the children today in time for the Story Hours’ culmination activity.
“This is really what I love about the Basadours. We started out small but we were never afraid to partner with groups so we can make an even bigger impact,” Nasol said.
Nasol found himself volunteering in one storytelling session after the other, and devoting time in preparing for each session to better share stories with the children.
“It’s amazing how much the children remember me because I was the one who told the story to them in one session. I become a positive influence to them and that is something to me,” he said.
“I feel less and less alone in trying to make a difference. I know there’s still a lot out there with the same burning passion to effect change,” he added.