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Read-Along turns 4 with tribute to mothers

MANILA, Philippines—“Love You Forever” is a story about a mother’s devotion to her son through the years. In the story, the mother expresses her love for her son no matter what his age—may he be that 2-year-old who flushes his watch in the toilet, or that grown man who now lives far from home. She goes to him and sings to him that she’ll love him forever. At the end of the story, it is the son who goes to his sick and aging mother, this time to sing to her that he’ll love her forever.

An afternoon of stories and songs marked Saturday’s special Inquirer Read-Along session—a dual celebration honoring mothers and marking the Read-Along’s fourth anniversary.

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Adarna storyteller Dyali Justo and daughter, Luntian, a regular Read-Along storyteller, rendered an emotional reading of Robert Munsch’s “Love You Forever.”

A portion of the story moved many in the audience to tears.

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To kick off the session, 5-year-old Iñigo Abacan, the Read-Along’s youngest reader so far, read Robert Magnuson’s “Mister Beetle’s Many Rooms.” He was joined by his mother, Sophia School principal Ann Abacan, and older brother Chino.

Published by Adarna House, the story tells of how Mister Beetle learned to live in peace with his neighbors.

Inquirer chief librarian Medy Gregorio and her 6-year-old grandson Jupiter Michael (“JM”) read in tandem “Pilong Patagu-tago” by Kristine Canon.

Also published by Adarna House, the story is about a playful boy who likes hiding from his parents and siblings.

Justo read Rebecca Añonuevo’s “Mahiyaing Manok,” a story of how a shy rooster eventually learned to crow with his mother’s help.

A special “read- and sing-along” segment, featuring Abacan’s other son Kahlil and friends Kaycia Rika Regondola and Kim Segarra, capped the session.

The violin trio, led by their music teacher Pastor Fidel Huliganga, played three songs as a tribute to the mothers in the audience—“Sa Ugoy ng Duyan,” “Tanging Yaman” and “Iingatan Ka”—with Kahlil and Sophia School teacher Salie Lorico on vocals and the kids in the audience singing along.

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Their first time

“I was nervous at first, but eventually, I became more confident,” said 18-year-old Chino Abacan, a first-time Read-Along storyteller.

Iñigo Abacan only nodded and smiled when asked about his own experience as a first-time reader.

Her sons’ stint allowed Ann Abacan a bit of relaxation. “Usually, I’m the lead storyteller. Today, I sort of just relaxed in the background and let them take the lead,” she said. “This is their Mother’s Day gift to me.”

Gregorio, who has been involved in the Read-Along since its inception, described her first time as a reader as a “happy” experience.

“I’ve always wondered how Read-Along guest readers feel during the session,” she said. “I’m glad I was able to read, for a change.”

Gregorio’s grandson JM said he was “very excited to read” and looked forward “to doing it again.” He said he liked reading history books, kiddie almanacs and other reference titles.

Justo said reading stories with Luntian was among her favorite bonding activities.

“I don’t usually read ‘Love You Forever’ because it makes people cry,” she said after her reading, noting how some kids and adults in the audience ended up teary-eyed like herself.

Trisha Camarso, 10, was among those in tears.

“It was really touching,” she said. “I cried over the mother’s love for her child despite everything. The story made me love my mother more.”

What they learned

Angie Tiongson, who came with her son Jan Mikhail, said the session was “heartwarming.”

“I learned a lot from the kids’ interaction and their response to the stories,” she added. “I hope the program will expand further because it helps kids realize the value of reading stories, which goes together with the values that parents teach their kids.”

For Jan Mikhail, a multiawarded student writer, the session served as a reminder of “the importance of taking care of our mother and showing our love for her.”

And how does he express his love for his mother?

“I always kiss and hug her and tell her ‘I love you.’ I also study hard and obey her,” said Jan Mikhail, who is on vacation in Manila from Nueva Vizcaya and who attended the Read-Along on the suggestion of a family friend.

Asked about what she had learned, 9-year-old Arnil Tamondong said: “That we must be obedient and industrious so that our mothers would be proud of us.”

“I actually liked all the stories because they taught everyone to be a better person,” said Tamondong, who has attended the Read-Along twice.

Future teachers

Marciana Torillos, an instructor of developmental reading at Laguna State Polytechnic University in Los Baños, attended the session with 11 of her students.

“We came here not just as observers but also as students, and I can say that we learned a lot. I wanted to show my students the importance of reading in teaching and I wanted them to see how storytelling is done by professionals,” Torillos said. adding:

“The trip was all worth it. The readers were very good and much focused, the session was entertaining and meaningful, and I am sure that the program has motivated my students to include reading in their teaching someday.”

Said Teena Mendoza, a student of Torillos: “I picked up a lot of new ideas and was entertained at the same time. I got tips on how to be a better storyteller and teacher, and also learned the importance of alternative teaching tools like slide presentations and singing.

“The program is not just for kids but for adults also. I think the program is very inspiring.”

More than 50 kids attended yesterday’s session, which was hosted by Inquirer Libre editor in chief Chito dela Vega and held in cooperation with Rotary Club of Makati, Vibal Publishing and Digna Aquino of Library Hub of Pasig and Mandaluyong.

Prizes courtesy of Rotary Club and Vibal were given away during the question-and-answer portions at the end of each storytelling segment. Books donated by Rotary Club were also given away at the end of the session.

Love for reading

Launched in May 2007 by Inquirer Research, Library and Junior Inquirer, the Read-Along aims to promote love for reading among children aged 7 to 13 through reading sessions with professionals and celebrities.

Some 200 sessions, including those held by the four Inquirer bureaus, have been conducted in the Inquirer main office and elsewhere.

Last Dec. 4, in line with the Inquirer’s 25th anniversary celebration, the Read-Along team and the Inquirer bureaus held 25 simultaneous sessions in 25 sites nationwide.

The Read-Along has been recognized by various award-giving bodies—the Philippine Quill (Award of Excellence, November 2008), the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (Culture-Friendly Media Organization, March 2009) and the Reading Association of the Philippines (Special award, October 2010).

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