A festival meant for children
She had no qualms about sitting on the floor with an army of children surrounding her.
With a book on her lap and a wireless microphone on her right hand, Binibining Cebu Tourism 2017 Samantha Ashley Lo read the story of “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein to 50 children inside J Centre Mall on a busy Saturday afternoon.
The story was about a tree who loved a little boy but the love was reciprocated with more selfish demands from the boy who wanted money, a house and a boat. The story ended with the boy, now a tired old man, sitting on a stump or what was left of the giving tree.
“I love this book. My mom used to read this to me as a child,” she quipped.
Samantha was accompanied by her mother, Ana, who was listening and observing her daughter interact with children from Sunshine Corner Ministry of Encouragement, SOS Children’s Village Cebu and Cancer Warriors Foundation.
“I absolutely love participating in the reading time. The kids were a joy to be with and I am impressed by their knowledge, understanding and behavior. It shows that these children are taken very good care of,” said Lo, a third year nursing student of the University of Cebu.
The 24-year-old beauty queen grew up in the US and moved to Cebu two years ago. Her father is Filipino-Chinese, her mom is Cuban-Nicaraguan.
Samantha’s fellow beauty queen, Miss Mandaue City 2016 Malka Shaver, also joined the fun and read “Tuko: The Tenor Wannabe” by Nemah Hermosa.
Malka said it was her first time to participate in a storytelling activity and admitted that she was nervous in facing the children.
But she was able to capture the children’s attention with her reading of the story of Tuko, who wanted to become a singer.
“It was such a thrill to see the kids interacting with me… singing along when I asked them to. All my fears vanished when I saw how pure and welcoming they were,” said Malka, 22, and a Mass Communication student of Silliman University.
Dubbed as “Storython 2017: A festival of stories, arts and books,” last Saturday’s event was organized by Basadours, Cebu Daily News and J Centre Mall.
An annual tradition held since 2012, Storython is spearheaded by Basadours, a non-government organization which advocates for literacy development and promoting the love of reading through storytelling.
It is held in the month of November, which is National Reading Month and National Children’s Month.
In the last four years, Storython has been implemented with partner organizations. For this year, the partnership included CDN and J Centre Mall.
“Storython was organized with children in mind. We wanted to give them the best time of their lives with stories, arts and books. It is important that they equate reading and books with fun because that will encourage them to embrace reading as a habit,” said Basadours Inc. executive director Tara Rama.
The program included an arts station where children were treated to a watercolor appreciation and demonstration by Ethelrida Pajao of DE’s Artroom and Artkada Cebu.
Two volunteers, Queenie May Ymbong and Jhonavie Alloso managed the stick puppets station while architect Hendrix Gil Lato taught children how to make origami art.
The highlight of the event was a storytelling marathon which had several performers and storytellers reading six books — five of which were written and illustrated by Filipino authors and artists.
Nine-year-old Angel (not her real name) said Storython made her feel special because the facilitators were friendly and accommodating.
“There were so many food and chocolates. The stories were very interesting and funny, and I was able to make new friends especially with children who have cancer,” she said in Visayan.
Apart from the beauty queens, the Book Club Members of Tabok National High School read and performed the book “Bruhahahahaha, Bruhihihihihi” by Ma. Corazon Remigio.
The students are helping put together their collective dream of making their school library more vibrant and interesting to fellow students.
“It was the students’ first time to be exposed in an activity outside of our school so it was a big honor for all of us. It also gave us the platform to share the story of our library and what we are doing to achieve our dream,” said Jaclyn Cecile Velasco-Chavez, the school’s teacher-librarian.
The Language Enthusiasts, the organization of english majors from the University of San Jose-Recoletos, regaled both children and adults with their creative performance of “Pag-abot ni Kolor sa Lungsod,” the Visayan version of “When Color Came to Town” by Susan Dela Rosa Aragon.
Althea Ruth Alvelda brought along her sister Tizrah Lois Alvelda and friend Yeni Salinas Medalla to perform “Just Add Dirt” by Becky Bravo. The story is about the boy Miguel who refused to take a bath resulting to different kinds of vegetables growing in various parts of his body.
An interactive storytelling session of Richard Reynante’s “Ang Huling Puno” was led by CDN correspondent Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo and Basadours resident artist Hendrix Gil Lato.
Rounding up the colorful afternoon was a dance number by CDN mascot Siloy. The children were taught about siloy or Black Shama, a species of birds which can only be found in Cebu.
Books, which were given as prizes, were donated by Janette Nellie Chiu and Hendri Go. Raquel Choa, through The Chocolate Chamber, gave away chocolate goodies for children, volunteers and performers.
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