LIFE is not perfect, but there are perfect moments.
Over a hundred children got glimpses of such moments through stories at the Read-Along last week at the Inquirer’s main office in Makati City—the warmth that envelops a disabled child upon discovery of a father’s unconditional love, or the exhilaration that comes when support from loved ones revitalizes one’s determination to pursue a dream or start a new one.
One story, titled “Sandosenang Sapatos,” was about a shoemaker whose youngest daughter, Susie, was born without legs. Yet the shoemaker secretly handcrafted 12 pairs of shoes—one each year—for his disabled youngest daughter. No one in the family knew about the shoes until one day, after the shoemaker’s death, they were accidentally found in the stockroom by his older daughter.
Written by Luis Gatmaitan, a Palanca Hall of Famer, the award-winning story tells how a family’s love can warm the heart of a handicapped family member and others as well. The story was very timely for Father’s Day last weekend.
Book goes on stage
The book, which has been adapted into a musical play, will be restaged on July 18 at the SM Mall of Asia. The event, sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), is in observance of National Disability Month and will be presented to the public for free.
Gatmaitan himself joined Rich Rodriguez of Ang Pinoy Storytellers, “The Voice Season 2” semifinalist Timmy Pavino and Sophia School principal Ann Abacan in reading this and other stories to the children.
Abacan, together with Sophia teachers Doray Carable, Dhang Bernabe, Sundhey Silva and Salie Villaluz, read Rene Villanueva’s “Ayokong Pumasok sa Paaralan,” a story about Bzzz, a young bee who often made up excuses to avoid going to school.
The story narrates how Bzzz eventually learned that by going to school, he not only learned new things but also tucked away in new and happy memories.
Pavino read Nemah Hermosa’s “Tuko, the Tenor Wannabe,” a story about a gecko who aspired to be a singer despite the discouragement of his peers because of his dissonant voice.
Through his struggles, he learned to appreciate the support of his family and friends and in a touching moment developed a new more fitting dream for himself.
First-time reader Pavino said he was exhilarated interacting with the children who sang with him when he mimicked the off-key voice of Tuko.
He encouraged the children to read more because “it starts the imagination and sparks dreams.”
Gatmaitan said he experienced a perfect moment during the session.
“The experience of reading to children is very enriching. When an author meets his audience, his being becomes complete…. It’s only when the children start reading the books that the experience of an author becomes whole,” Gatmaitan said.
Rodriguez, who helped read the shoemaker’s story, said the session was special to him because it was the first time he read a story together with the author of the book.
“I wanted to do something different this time so I invited Gatmaitan,” Rodriguez said.
“For me the real celebrity was the author of the story,” Rodriguez added.
“There are a lot more avenues to help advance the advocacy of reading. I think encouragement from the parents is very vital. If the parents are readers, chances are the children will also be readers,” Gatmaitan said.
He recommended displaying books at home and letting children decide on their own which ones to read.
The session was more special for Rodriguez because it was his birthday and the kids sang happy birthday to for him. Hosted by Inquirer Libre editor in chief Chito dela Vega, the session was held in cooperation with Aldric Gaerlan, Rodriguez and his friends.