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Read-Along essay winner’s favorite character was a pug

By: - Researcher / @Inq_Researchers
/ 03:00 AM October 08, 2015

TALES about recognizing and sharing one’s talent took center stage at a special Inquirer Read-Along session on Wednesday morning at the Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila School (LRMS) in Cainta, Rizal.

The special session, which featured Read-Along ambassador Cathy Untalan-Vital and professional storyteller Rich Rodriguez, was part of the prize for 11-year-old LRMS student Sophia Janelle Parada, winner of the Read-Along’s #MyBookSelf Essay Writing Contest held in July. Contestants were asked to submit essays about their favorite book characters.

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It was Sophia’s first time to join a contest. “Do not be afraid to try new things. Push yourself to try new challenges because many opportunities can open for you by doing this,” she told the Inquirer after receiving her award.

Inquirer mascot Guyito also paid a surprise visit to Sophia’s class, many of whom joined Guyito in a dance number towards the end of the session.

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Vital read Grace Chong’s “Half and Half,” a heartwarming story about an artistic boy who drew his favorite fruits in halves because he was used to sharing them with his parents while Rodriguez read Isabella Clarisse Juria’s “You’re A Star,” a story about a little girl who wanted to showcase her dog’s talents by entering a pet show.

Sophia’s essay, which featured the dog Hachiko from Leslea Newman’s “Hachiko Waits,” bested close to 40 other essays submitted by students from different parts of the country.

Sophia shared that it was her grandmother who encouraged her to join the contest. “My grandmother saw the post shared by the school’s Facebook page about the contest and encouraged me to join. So I wrote my piece and asked her to check it,” she said.

“I read the book on my own. I liked the story a lot because the relationship of the dog Hachiko and his owner touched me. It shows that a person can find a best friend in a pet dog,” she added.

In her essay published in Junior Inquirer last Aug. 30, she wrote: “I adore Hachiko for his remarkable loyalty. He has proven that a dog can truly be a man’s best friend. He has shown that a deep bond between dog and human is possible.”

“I feel very happy that I won. My grandmother and parents were really happy, too. At first, I really didn’t want to join. But I thought about it a lot. I spent two days writing the essay and asked my grandmother to take a look at my work. I didn’t even tell my teachers that I was joining the contest. I decided to give it a try, regardless of the outcome. I’m just thankful for the experience,” Sophia said.

Her grandmother, Leila De Asis, said she told Sophia that there was no harm in trying. At first she was hesitant to join (the contest) because she was thinking she would not win anyway. I told her it was not just about winning or losing. By joining, at least you’ll gain experience,” she added.

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“I feel very proud of her. We didn’t expect her to participate in contests like this so it’s a happy surprise,” Sophia’s father Ruperto added.

Lydia Vicente, founder and president of LRMS, also shared her pride and delight. “This is a pleasant surprise. We encourage the children to do more reading and join more contests like this one because it helps them grow,” she said.

LRMS Basic Education principal Rosalie Hartmann, on the other hand, was thankful for the Inquirer’s initiative to promote the love for reading.

“From today’s stories I learned to always smile, even when times are hard,” said Juliana, 11. “I also learned the importance of not judging other people.”

Jenina, 10, learned about the true spirit of competition. “We should be proud of ourselves, whether we win or we lose,” she said.

As for their favorite part of the program, the two agreed on one thing: “It’s definitely Guyito’s dancing,” they said with wide smiles. “We were happy to discover that Guyito was a really good dancer!”

Wednesday’s session, hosted by Junior Inquirer editor Ruth Navarra-Mayo, was in coordination with LRMS and Ang Pinoy Storytellers.

Vital, former Miss Earth Foundation executive director and currently a news anchor, will be among the readers in the upcoming Inquirer Read-Along Festival, which will be held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on Nov. 6-7, and is part of the Inquirer’s 30th anniversary celebration activities.

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