MANILA, Philippines—Set to indigenous Filipino music, a special Read-Along session featuring stories about unity and teamwork was held at the Inquirer office in Makati on Saturday morning.
The session, which was part of the yearlong celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Philippine Daily Inquirer Employees Union (PDIEU), featured musicians Tony Palis and Karl Ramirez, Inquirer photographer Grig Montegrande and members of the PDIEU as readers.
Montegrande, a regular Read-Along volunteer storyteller, opened the session with “Ako si Kaliwa, Ako si Kanan,” a story about how a pair of slippers discovers the importance of teamwork when suddenly faced with life without each other. The story, published by Adarna House, was written by Russell Molina.
Before the reading, Palis and Ramirez, members of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, introduced the children to several indigenous Filipino instruments such as the kulintang (a set of gongs), sarunay (a smaller kulintang), kubing (a bamboo instrument strummed while being held between the lips), tongali (a bamboo flute) and tambor (a small drum whose surface is made of human skin).
Music and a puppet show
Child volunteers then played the instruments as Palis and Ramirez read in tandem the story “When Color Came To Town,” written by Susan de la Rosa Aragon and published by Adarna, which tells about a dreary town that came to life after its people came together to clean it.
Capping the program was a puppet show of the story “Ang Patsotsay na Iisa ang Pakpak,” an Aklat Batibot written by Rene O. Villanueva and published by Philippine Children’s Television Foundation. Featuring new members of the PDIEU, the story tells of a group of one-winged creatures that discovered that they could reach new heights by linking their wings and flapping them together in perfect sync.
“Through this activity, we hope we were able to help instill among the kids the value of teamwork, selfless service and respect, as well as promote the union’s advocacy to spread love of reading,” said PDIEU president and Inquirer reporter Michael Ubac, who came to the session with other PDIEU officers.
“Aside from imparting the values contained in our story, we also want to teach children about these indigenous Filipino instruments. We want to educate the children about their culture,” Palis said.
Neil James Santiago, a Virlanie Foundation house parent who came with his wards, said the read-along sessions are instrumental in helping children improve their listening skills.
“It’s a good thing that children hear stories about helping each other out because back in their homes, they have different tasks assigned to them. I’m happy that they get to hear stories about not being lazy and helping other people,” said Santiago.
Aron, 12, one of Santiago’s wards, said his favorite story was “When Color Came to Town,” which taught him the importance of helping each other “if we want our work to be easier and everyone to be happy.”
Love for storytelling
House parent Remy Patricio said her wards really love storytelling and will surely have many stories to share with the other children when they get home.
Eight-year old Kimberly, a student at Palmer Elementary School, said her favorite story was “Ang Patsotsay na Iisa ang Pakpak.” She said “the Patsotsays were very cute,” adding that the story taught her not to tease others just because they were different.
Her classmate Jessa, 9, liked the same story because she found the puppets and props “very pretty and beautiful.” “I learned that people have to help each other in order to reach their goals,” she said.
Olivier Laot, a French Virlanie volunteer, said the Read-Along was “exactly what we need for the children—activities for comprehension and understanding. It makes children active.”
Saturday’s session, hosted by Libre editor-in-chief Chito de la Vega, was held in cooperation with Virlanie Foundation and PDIEU.
The next session, scheduled for August 18 at 1 p.m. at the Inquirer main office, will feature Metrobank Foundation awardees and Sophia School storytellers. Interested participants may contact Ellen Caparros at 8978808 local 329. Slots are on a first-come, first-served basis.—With reports from Kate Pedroso, Marielle Medina and Bea Ponce, Inquirer Research