5th grade Seed Montessori student tops Inquirer storytelling competition | Inquirer News

5th grade Seed Montessori student tops Inquirer storytelling competition

Jose Joachim Manalang - Inquirer Read-Along - 7 Oct 2017

Jose Joachim Manalang, fifth grade student of The Seed Montessori School, reads “Super Ningning” by Liwliwa Malabed. The story is about a young bullied girl who overcomes her insecurity by making friends. (Photo by JOHN PAUL AUTOR / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Jose Joachim Manalang, fifth grade student of The Seed Montessori School, was named “king” of the storytelling competition during the culmination of the 7th Inquirer Read-Along Festival on Saturday.

Manalang bested four other finalists who all read the story “Super Ningning” by Liwliwa Malabed, which tells the story about a young bullied girl who overcomes her insecurity by making friends.


“I didn’t expect to win,” the 10-year-old Manalang said. “I just remained calm and rehearsed repeatedly at home.”


As the first winner from his school, he said he would use his title to influence his schoolmates to adopt the reading habit.

The other finalists were Izabelle Rose Dimzon and Reeve Angelo Penuliar of the School of Saint Anthony, Princess Jeza Gail Eliang of the Antonio Regidor Elementary School, and Iza Nicole Barcena of the Jacinto Zamora Elementary School.

The five finalists were chosen out of a record 81 aspirants who went through elimination and semifinal rounds on Sept. 23 and 30, respectively. Before the competition, on Sept. 16, they took a mandatory workshop on the techniques of effective storytelling.

The panel of judges in the final round was composed of Sophia School principal Ann Abacan, Dyali Justo of Adarna House, and Rich Rodriguez of Ang Pinoy Storytellers.

Contestants were judged based on the following criteria:

  • book-based reading -15 percent
  • knowledge/delivery – 20 percent
  • body language/gestures – 20 percent
  • eye contact and facial expressions -10 percent
  • voice/volume/diction – 15 percent
  • poise – 10 percent
  • pacing – 10 percent

Over 200 kids from 14 schools in Metro Manila attended the last day of the annual Read-Along event at the newpaper’s Makati office.


They listened to tales of determination and aspiration as read by theater actress Cris Villonco, Metrobank Foundation’s 2017 Outstanding Filipino awardee Dr. Alonzo Gabriel, actor Sandino Martin and veteran storyteller Ray Escasiñas of Ang Pinoy Storytellers.

Dream role

Villonco read Christine Bellen’s “Filemon Mamon,” which tells of a chubby boy who changes his ways to be able to get his dream role in a stage play.

“I don’t think anyone should lose hope. I myself have faced rejection several times, and it’s character building,” Villonco said.

“Life goes on and that’s what the children should learn. We have our down times,” said the theater actress who was cast as Jennifer Honey in “Matilda The Musical.” The show runs Nov. 10 to Dec. 10 at the Meralco Theater in Ortigas, Pasig City.

Gabriel read “Nang Magkakulay Ang Nayon” by Susan dela Rosa Aragon, about a desolate and dirty village that regains its vibrance after a painter’s visit.

“We should not lose hope even in tough situations. Believe that favorable change will come our way,” said Gabriel, a microbiology professor and scientist at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

Escasinas read Rene Villanueva’s “Nemo, Ang Batang Papel,” about a cutout paper boy who experiences adversities when he becomes a street child.

The event’s afternoon session had Martin reading Alice Mallari’s “Apolakus!” which tells of Dadoy, a weakling who overcomes bullying in school.

Dancing mascots

“It is important to maintain constant communication between parents and children [for the parents] to immediately address the problem,” said Martin who confessed that he was also bullied in school.

The session also featured dance performances from Inquirer mascot, Guyito, and Flora, the mascot of “Maging Laging Handa Project,” a disaster preparedness initiative of Smart Communications.

Some of the children identified with the storybook characters, among them Rubi Lyn, a Grade 6 student from Fernando Ma. Guerrero Elementary School, who said she was like Filemon in that she does not easily give up on her aspirations.

For Timothy, 9, a Grade 4 student from Good Shepherd Montessori School, Nemo’s story taught him that “even though you are poor, you can strive hard and believe in yourself.”

Grade 5 student Mark of San Antonio Village Elementary School said Gabriel’s story taught him to do good deeds to those who needed them most.

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The two-day Read-Along festival was copresented by Smart Communications in cooperation with McDonald’s, Unilab, Ritemed for Kids, USAid, Adarna House, Anvil Publishing, Vibal Group, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and Laarnie Luna of Metrobank Foundation.  /atm

Sandino Martin - Inquirer Read-Along - 7 Oct 2017

Actor Sandino Martin reads Alice Mallari’s “Apolakus!”, a story about Dadoy, a school weakling who overcomes bullying. (Photo by JOHN PAUL AUTOR / Philippine Daily Inquirer)


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