Artists wanted

By: Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo August 25,2017 - 10:53 PM


We’re nearing the end of the second run of Story Hours, and I feel a mixture of relief and the blues as we close another chapter of this initiative’s story.

Back in 2012, we thought of a way to make storytelling sessions more interactive and engaging for children: that they go beyond being passive participants of an activity and become active players of the process.

The idea of Story Hours as a three-in-one event was hatched. The concept was to make Story Hours a venue for storytelling, book drive/donation and story writing. It shall also serve as a platform to bring together children (between the ages of seven and nine) from private and public elementary schools to share an afternoon of interaction and collaboration.

Story Hours was a big idea, and I thought of making it bigger by getting partners to make the literacy vision a reality. My excited self also thought of making Story Hours a monthly endeavor that will run for one year.

I raised the idea to Inquirer Visayas Bureau chief Connie Fernandez, who was — and continues to be — supportive of literacy initiatives. We were rolling out Inquirer Read-along sessions that year and I was an active volunteer of the “movement.” She gave her approval.

The branding was Inquirer Read-along at the Story Hours. This means that the Visayas bureau took care of the storytelling component which included inviting the storyteller and choosing the book for the session so we can align the theme of the story to the story writing element. Grace Zabala Oberes was my partner in those monthly sessions even as we both got pregnant in the year that Story Hours was being implemented.

The Basadours, a volunteer storytelling group in which I am one of the cofounders, came in to handle the story writing part. The group — and I recognize my biased opinion on this matter — are excellent facilitators in encouraging children to share their ideas so they can come up with stories of their own.

The Banilad Town Centre completed what I call the “triumvirate.” Bigseed PR and Events was instrumental in making this possible as BTC was their client that year.

During the initial phase of project planning, I worked with April Rama, who gamely suggested that we also do a book drive. We polished the idea and came up with the concept of private school children bringing books for their public school counterparts so we have a literal exchange of “ideas.” On the launching day, Jaja Chiongbian-Rama was with us to check on the details. Vanessa Deen joined our colorful picture later on. On the first few sessions, Ella Beverly Sarmago helped us out. Richelle Anne Hilot was my constant textmate and email buddy until the culmination program.
BTC gave us the venue to implement the idea.

Dimsum Break provided food for the participants, who were invited by the Inquirer Visayas Bureau.

We opened Story Hours on August 2012. We had our sessions at the second floor of BTC in front of Gymboree. We moved to the other side after a couple of sessions.

On September 2013, we closed the first run of Story Hours after we served more than 500 children from 17 public and private elementary schools and community centers. We had 10 volunteer storytellers and eight volunteer artists, who illustrated the stories written by the children. The stories with their illustrations were printed and compiled in our first book called “Our Stories.” We’re still looking for funds to print copies of the book and distribute them to participating schools.

For the 2016–2017 run, it is the triumvirate of Cebu Daily News, Basadours and J Centre Mall that rolled out this literacy initiative. Time flies and today, August 26, we complete 12 sessions of the second run of Story Hours. It wasn’t an easy run. It was a challenge to invite school children to join us especially when the March 9 Department of Education moratorium was released which gave a more strict policy on field trips and other similar activities.

We shifted to inviting barangays and welcomed walk-in participants during this period.

What is truly inspiring with Story Hours is the coming together of different people from different entities united with the same goal of bringing fun and joy to children as they are encouraged and inspired to love reading and books.

We are still a month away from the culmination program, but let me extend my gratitude to J Centre Mall through marketing head Anatrel “Natnat” Capada and the wonderful coordinators/officers Kharla-Jyn Gutierrez and Hannah Loise Redillas. Mall staff Calix was with us most of the time to take care of our logistical needs.

The Basadours is led by Executive Director Tara Rama. I am proud to be part of an organization committed to the advocacy of advancing literacy programs.

My gratitude to the CDN Team led by Pia Seno for saying yes to my Story Hours proposal. Ernesto “Jhong” Familiar with his boss, Gary Gesalan, played a huge role in inviting the participants. Former marketing services officer Cheche Lara was my partner in implementing the second run. Just recently, Janna Lim took over and I’ve been very happy with our collaboration.

We still need volunteer artists to help us out with illustrations for the second book. If you’re interested, please connect with Architect/Madman/Basadours resident-artist Hendrix Gil Lato at 0922 719 1866 or 0915 425 9454. His email address is [email protected] He will be happy to assign you a story or two.

More updates on this column as we wrap up the second edition of Story Hours.

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TAGS: artists, Cebu Daily News, Inquirer Visayas, Story Hours, Storytelling

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