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Kids with cancer hear tales of kindness at Inquirer Read-Along

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PBA COURTSIDE reporter Rizza Diaz and Dyali Justo of Adarna House (in the middle of it all) pose with the children they read to at the INQUIRER Read-Along session on Saturday. RODEL ROTONI

PBA COURTSIDE reporter Rizza Diaz and Dyali Justo of Adarna House (in the middle of it all) pose with the children they read to at the INQUIRER Read-Along session on Saturday. RODEL ROTONI

MANILA , Philippines–Tales of kindness, courage, acceptance and everyday heroism.

These were the highlights of last Saturday’s Inquirer Read-Along session, which celebrated Cancer in Children Awareness Month with some brave children engaged in tough battles.

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Some 35 cancer-stricken children from the Philippine General Hospital and the Center for Health Improvement and Life Development (Child Haus) came to listen to stories read by Philippine Basketball Association courtside reporter Rizza Diaz and veteran Read-Along storyteller Dyali Justo.

The event, held at the Inquirer main office, was organized in partnership with the Philippine Cancer Society (PCS).

Justo read Alice Mallari’s

“Apolakus,” the story of a bullied kid who performs acts of kindness even for those who are mean and intimidating.

Diaz, a Read-Along first-timer, read “Ang Madyik Silya ni Titoy” by Russell Molina, which tells of the value of acceptance of children with disabilities.

“I was more nervous doing the Read-Along than reporting on Game 7 of the PBA finals,” said Diaz, who is also an events host. “I spent the entire day yesterday preparing. I tried to find copies of the book everywhere too, so the children could have their own copies while I read. I realized it was not really easy. You really have to put yourself into the story, understand it and add animation to make it lively for the kids. Good thing Dyali helped me to practice, too.”

Dr. Rachael Marie Rosario, PCS executive director, said the Read-Along was one of the venues that let children enjoy the experience of learning. “It’s like having a teacher for a day.”

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“When you ask the kids what they want, they could easily answer toys or gadgets. But when you sit down with them and ask them what they really miss most or what they would really like to do if they weren’t sick, they would answer that they want to go back to school. Most of our cancer patients quit school. If they are lucky enough, some can be home-schooled or have learning programs in the hospitals. The children say they miss school the most, especially when they see their classmates moving up to a higher grade while they get left behind. They want to catch up,” she said.

First-time participant Catherine, 13, said she liked “Ang Madyik Silya ni Titoy” as it taught her to accept and befriend people despite their disabilities. She also related to “Apolakus” as she used to be bullied by other children.

“I just ignored them (bullies) but I never squabbled with them. Later, I became friends with them,” she said.

Eleven-year-old Pamela, who has been undergoing treatment at the PGH, said she admired the courage and kindness of Dadoy, the character in “Apolakus.” “He even offered sandwiches to the bullies who always took his baon,” she said.

Eight-year-old Charles, who loved the bully story, said he would tell bullies to refrain from beating on others “so they would not be bullied in return.”

Saturday’s session, hosted by Junior Inquirer editor Ruth Navarra-Mayo, was held in cooperation with Rosario and PCS project director Romeo Marcaida. Diaz brought new books and T-shirts as well healthy meals for the kids.

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TAGS: Children, children with cancer, Inquirer Read-Along, Philippines, Read-along
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