MANILA, Philippines—Stories about a young girl’s wish for peace, friendship beyond the bounds of religion and love for family were the focus of Saturday morning’s special Inquirer Read-Along session marking Eid’l Fitr.
Over 60 children, including 20 of the Islamic faith from Pasay and Quezon cities, came to the session, which had for storytellers Binibining Pilipinas-Universe Ariella Arida, Binibining Pilipinas-Supranational Mutya Johanna Datul and Sophia School teachers Salie Villaluz, Marnie Buenaagua and Sundhey Silva.
The Sophia teachers kicked off the session with a reading of “Ang Batang Nangarap ng Kapayapaan,” written by Bimbo Papasin and published by Katha, a story of a young girl who eventually gets her wish—peace for her community in Mindanao.
First-time storyteller Datul next read “The Lantern—A Ramadan Story” by the British Council, a tale about the reunion of an estranged father with his son during Ramadan.
Experienced storyteller Arida followed with “My Muslim Friend” by Mary Ann Ordinario-Floresta, a story of how two girls managed to be the best of friends despite their different cultures and religions.
“It was a very enjoyable experience. I was a bit nervous at first, but I was energized when I saw how the kids reacted positively to the story. It was a great feeling. I really love interacting with children,” said Datul.
Arida, who has lots of experience reading to kids, said her turn as a reader during Saturday’s session “felt like the first time again. Every experience I have as a storyteller is different,” she added.
Both beauty queens, who are in the thick of preparations for their respective international pageants, took time out from their busy schedules to read to the kids.
Ashra Bayadsid, 11, came to the session with nine other Muslim children from Barangay Culiat in Quezon City. “I enjoyed listening to Ate Ara’s story, ‘My Muslim Friend,’ because it was about friendship,” she said. “I learned that it is important to be friends with others, even if they do not share your religion.”
Rosalie Alih accompanied the kids from Culiat to the session. “We have been celebrating Eid’l Fitr since Thursday,” she said, adding that the festivities usually lasted up to three days. “We started with prayers on Thursday. On Friday, I hosted a party for the kids in the community. We had games, music and dancing.”
For kids, too
“Ramadan is usually participated in by adults. We try to make Eid’l Fitr about the children,” said Alih. “Attending this Read-Along is part of this celebration.”
The Rotary Club of Makati donated books to the Read-Along program, the third time since 2011. Led by president Carlos Miguel Rufino, club members distributed books from their Books Across the Seas program to the children. Rufino came with his wife, Cat, and Rotary members Shalimar Hofer Tamano and Rodrigo Segura.
The children had snacks courtesy of Pizza Hut’s Book It! program. Backpacks and shirts, also courtesy of the fast-food chain, were given away as prizes during the question-and-answer segments.
Saturday’s session, hosted by Libre editor in chief Chito de la Vega, was in cooperation with Pizza Hut’s Book It! program, Janice Inocencio, Vanessa Lopez, Hands On Manila, Service for Peace, St. Anthony of Makati Montessori School, Laura Vicuña Foundation, Ana Marie Tan, Makati Sporting Association and Rotary Club of Makati.
The next Read-Along session will be on Aug. 24 at the Inquirer main office. Interested kids and adults may call Ellen Caparros at 8978808 ext. 329.