Tales of friendship at Read-Along Champions session

By: - Research Section Head / @Inq_Researchers
/ 06:03 AM July 22, 2013

STORYTELLING TIME Nueva Ecija Rep. Magnolia Antonino regales children with Boots S.A. Pastor’s retelling of Aesop’s fable, “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” during the launch of the INQUIRER Read-Along Champions program in San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija. RODEL ROTONI

MANILA, Philippines—Stories about friendship and camaraderie were the highlight of Saturday morning’s special Inquirer Read-Along session, which marked the launch of the Read-Along Champions Program in San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija.

The program is geared toward forming groups that would promote love of reading in communities and schools.


The session was spearheaded by San Leonardians of Nueva Ecija, a group composed of volunteers from the Parish Youth Ministry of San Bartolome Parish.

Held at the San Lorenzo Ruiz Diocesan Academy, the Read-Along Champions gathered 58 kids to listen to storytellers Nueva Ecija Rep. Magnolia Antonino, Read-Along veteran Dyali Justo and San Leonardian volunteers Ikko Esporna and John Rey Roxas.


Justo kicked off the session by reading Kristine Canon’s “Sampung Magkakaibigan,” published by Adarna House, a story about a boy who discovers how to be a better friend.

Antonino read Boots S.A. Pastor’s retelling of the classic fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper” by Lampara Book, about how an ant teaches his friend the grasshopper an important life lesson.

Esporna and Roxas capped the storytelling segment with Angelita Aragon’s “Ang Magkaibigan,” a story about the friendship of a dove and an ant.

“The kids were really excited,” said special education teacher Antonino. “Kids in private schools are so used to having books, but here, for these kids, these books are new and they were excited to have someone read to them. To them, this is an entirely new experience. It was very heartwarming to see them appreciate activities like this. They are rarely exposed to these kinds of things.”

Rovie Muyot, San Leonardian volunteer, said that organizing their first Read-Along session was both exciting and nerve-wracking.

“The night before the session, I kept asking my fellow volunteers if we had forgotten anything,” said Muyot, who is a teacher at San Lorenzo Ruiz Diocesan Academy. “We are all just relieved that today’s program went well.”

Roxas said he and Esporna came all the way from Manila for Saturday morning’s program. “We haven’t slept yet, but this event was worth it,” he said.


He and Esporna, like some of the other volunteers, are young professionals. Some of the younger volunteers are college students.

The session taught the children the true meaning of friendship, particularly the importance of defending friends and rescuing them from harm, said Paul John Tolentino of Mallorca Elementary School and Nina Manson of San Leonardo Central School.

Marylyn Gonzales, also of Mallorca Elementary, said the lesson learned was not to pick up a fight with friends, while Jallor de Guzman said it was to “say sorry whenever they hurt somebody.”

Saturday’s event, hosted by San Leonardian volunteer Nickhole Bernandino, was held in cooperation with the San Leonardians of Nueva Ecija, which organized the entire event.

The two-part Read-Along Champions training module features workshops on the principles and techniques of interactive and book-based storytelling and intimate and assisted reading and a workshop on envisioning a reading program.

Groups interested in launching a Read-Along Champions program in their communities may get in touch with the Inquirer Read-Along team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/inqreadalong.–With Roxanne Abad and Jackie Sabian, Inquirer Library

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