Muslim, Christian kids learn together in Inquirer Read Along session

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04:43 PM August 11th, 2013

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By: Julliane de Jesus, August 11th, 2013 04:43 PM

Inquirer Read Along session bind Muslim and Christian children together, fostering deep understanding and respect for one’s belief and culture. Video by INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines – It was not just a simple Inquirer Read Along session. It bound Muslim and Christian children together.

Ashra Bayadsid, a sixth grader from Culiat, Quezon City, is never too young to speak out on the long existing dispute between the Muslim community and Christians in Mindanao.

“Dapat wala nang giyera. Dapat magbati na sila. Dapat hindi na sila mag-away dahil sa lupa (There should be no more war. They should reconcile already. They should stop fighting over lands), ” Bayadsid said on Saturday afterwards the Inquirer Read Along took place.

Bayadsid shared to INQUIRER.net that she has a friend who is a Christian and they get along very well. When she was asked what moral lesson the Inquirer program taught her she  quickly answered, “Na kailangang respetuhin at maging mabuti sa ibang tao kahit hindi mo karelihiyon (That we have to respect and do good to other people even though they are from a different religion).”

This month’s Inquirer Read Along centers on the unity of Christians and fellows from the Muslim community. The three stories featured peace, friendship and solidarity between the two religions with differing cultures.

Attended by the recently crowned Binibining Pilipinas winners, first time storytellers Bb. Pilipinas-Universe Arielle Arida and Bb. Pilipinas-Supranational Mutya Datul read children’s books to a much diverse audience.

Some kids hail from a Muslim community in Quezon city. Street children from Baclaran also filled the roster of Read Along participants. The rest are first to third graders from Christian schools.

As soon as the kids entered a hall at the Philippine Daily Inquirer main office in Makati, everyone was excited, scrambling to grab the best story book.

When the Inquirer Libre editor-in-chief Chito De La Vega officially commenced the storytelling session and asked the kids who wants to say the opening prayer, a boy in the audience  named “MJ” eagerly raised his hand, took over the microphone and said a prayer in Islam.

In honor of the Eid’l Fitr celebration, all of the stories told were in a Muslim setting. The Sophia School teachers, who were volunteers of the Inquirer Read Along for years, read a short story which tells about a child and her family relocating amid the tension and war in “Lupang Pangako,” Mindanao. Aliyah, along with her friend Abdul, inspired the warring parties to make peace with each other.

The 21-year-old Datul, whom the kids called “Ate Mutya”, maintained her poise as she read a story about a caliph and a ghoul and joked around with the kids.

Following the 5-foot 8-inches beauty queen from Isabela is Arida, 24, who will be competing for the Miss Universe title in November in Moscow. The “My Muslim Friend” book “Ate Ara” is the story of Jamella and Ann who remained best friends despite their difference in culture and religion.

“Aside from the fact that this is a duty for us, it is [fulfilling] to do these kinds of things apart from those about beauty, make-up and glamor,” the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) Chemistry graduate Bb. Pilipinas title holder said.

Arida, who admitted she has a penchant for fiction books especially those written by John Grisham, added that her participation in the Inquirer Read Along is more worthy to be posted on her Instagram photos than just plain vanity and “selfie” photos.

Datul, on the other hand, said she prefers self-help books particularly “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. The computer programming graduate in Isabela is set to fly for Minsk, Belarus next week to gear up for the Miss Supranational 2013 on September 6.

After the read along, the 18-year-old Out-of-School-Youth (OSY) Sittinor Sultan from Baclaran said the program simply taught him how to say a prayer.

“It also [inspired] us how to always say “thank you” whenever people do good things for you. More than that, the stories taught us the value of respect,” Sultan said in Filipino.

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