It’s good to be fluent in English, but nothing beats mastery of the mother tongue.
Inquirer Read-Along ambassador Anna Theresa Licaros shared this lesson with 160 students of Assumption College at the Read-Along Caravan session held on the school campus in San Lorenzo Village, Makati City, last week.
Licaros, Assumption alumna and former Binibining Pilipinas-Universe, read “Ang Binibining Tumalo sa Mahal na Hari” by Christine Bellen, a story about a girl who uses her wits to pass the king’s tests and pursue her love.
Licaros read in Filipino and English. “It is through reading that you improve your grammar and vocabulary. It is good to be fluent in English, but it is equally good to be fluent in your mother tongue,” she told her audience of Grade 7 students.
“I hope this session has shown them that there are a lot of good Filipino books, that they are published both in English and Filipino, and they need not be intimidating,” she told the Inquirer.
“They saw that I was reading to them both in Filipino and in English. I wanted to encourage them to find good material in Filipino.”
Licaros told the children how reading helped her as a student and, later on, as a lawyer.
“When I was younger, I was always the first one to finish my library card because I borrowed lots of books,” said Licaros, who graduated summa cum laude from the University of the Philippines Diliman in 2005.
Asked about the books they had read, the students erupted in cheers. Most raised their hands and mentioned young adult fiction titles, like “Harry Potter.”
“I read a lot of books all at the same time. I get bored when it’s just one book. Right now I’m reading ‘A Storm of Swords’ and ‘Darth Vader and Son,’” Licaros said.
Licaros said the protagonist in her story also had a lot to teach the girls in the audience.
“There is a lot to learn from Sharay—to be determined, to be focused on your goals and not to let obstacles intimidate you,” Licaros said.
“If you really want to prove yourself, to show what you’re made of, you have to be ingenious, resourceful and resilient in the face of challenges,” she added.
Stories about strong women were at the center of the session, which also featured veteran read-along storyteller Rich Rodriguez, who read “Ang Alamat ng Duhat,” a story about how a young woman gives her people hope by teaching them to read and write.
The session, hosted by Junior Inquirer’s Ruth Navarra, was held in cooperation with Assumption College.
Licaros was the second read-along ambassador to read in a caravan session, after Kim Atienza at Chinese International School on Sept. 4.
The next caravan session will be held at Miriam College on Oct. 21 with Inquirer Read-Along ambassador, president and CEO Alexandra Prieto-Romualdez taking part.
Each caravan session features a special Q&A segment with the read-along ambassadors, mostly centered on their experience with books.
Launched in May, the read-along ambassadors program features celebrities who have pledged to be role models for the youth and to promote love of reading.
Other ambassadors are broadcaster Karen Davila, singer Nikki Gil, actress Jasmine Curtis-Smith and Miss Earth Foundation executive director Cathy Untalan.
The Read-Along Caravan is a series of sessions held in Metro Manila schools in the run-up to the Inquirer Read-Along Festival, to be held on Nov. 12-13.
Metro Manila schools interested in hosting the Read-Along Caravan may send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.