Kids learn to care for Mother Earth at Read-Along | Inquirer Lifestyle

Kids learn to care for Mother Earth at Read-Along

MANILA, Philippines—In celebration of Earth Day, stories about nature took center stage at Saturday’s Inquirer Read-Along, an ongoing storytelling program for children.

Miss Philippines-Earth 2012 candidates and returning Alitaptap reader Rich Rodriguez regaled kids and adults alike with tales about a deep friendship between a bird and a lonely mountain, and about an edible planet on the brink of destruction.

The session was held at the main conference room of the Inquirer office in Makati, which was transformed into a mini garden complete with plants and butterfly cutouts for the occasion.

In line with Earth Day

Since 1970, Earth Day is celebrated worldwide on April 22 with activities and mass actions aimed at promoting a clean and healthy planet.

Miss Philippines-Earth beauties at the read-along included Miss Caloocan City Ellyz Lee Santos, Miss Catarman Jem Francelle Sanico, Miss Floridablanca Jennifer Grace Alberto, Miss Tabuk City Glennifer Perido, Miss Vigan City Mary Candice Ramos and Miss Zamboanga City Kristina Cassandra Buac. They read “Si Inggolok at ang Planeta Pakaskas (Inggolok and the Planet Pakaskas),” a story by Rene O. Villanueva and Lem Garcellano.

The story is about a man who realizes that his planet, where everything is edible, is slowly deteriorating because of abuse and gluttony.

The Miss Philippines-Earth contestants were participating in the Inquirer read-along for the first time.

“I like the read-along setup because it is different from the usual classroom experience and children may be more receptive to learn about different issues like caring for the environment. And I think it is important that children have an awareness of the importance of taking care of the environment at a young age,” Ramos said.

“Because of the influence of technology, a lot of kids are staying away from reading. I think activities like the read-along help the children go back to the roots of learning,” Alberto added.

The beauty queens capped their storytelling with some child-friendly tips on how one can help save the earth—like conserving energy by  unplugging appliances when not in use, and conserving water by using a glass instead of running the water from the faucet when brushing one’s teeth.

Enjoyable experience

“It was a very enjoyable experience. I loved interacting with the kids.  You could see their eyes light up and how excited they get when they learn something new,” Buac said.

Rodriguez read “Ang Bundok na Nagmahal sa Ibon (The Mountain that Loved a Bird)” written by Alice McLerran and translated by Rene O. Villanueva, a story about how a bird named “Tuwa” gave life to a barren mountain.

Rodriguez also taught the children Tuwa’s special song to the mountain, which he had composed himself.

The storytellers encouraged the children to participate, asking them to  give their own examples of how to care for Mother Earth. Many answered: By planting trees and conserving water.

Nine-year-old Angelo M. Casuela said the best way he could help in caring for the earth was to “conserve electricity and not waste water.”

For 12-year-old George Batistis, the read-along was “very enjoyable.” He liked both stories but his favorite storyteller was Rodriguez. “I had a lot of fun because it was my first time to hear these stories and Kuya Rich was very entertaining,” he said.

Love for environment

John Leonard Valenzuela, 10, said his favorite story was “Ang Bundok na Nagmahal sa Ibon” because “the characters were like humans” in the way they expressed their love.

When asked what he had learned from the story, he said, “It’s important to take care of our environment because without it we will be nothing.”

Eight-year-old Audrey Margaret Culan-culan also liked the story of the bird and the mountain, saying it was “touching.” We need to protect nature, she said, “because living things rely on it for food and shelter.”

Saturday’s session, was hosted by Junior Inquirer editor Ruth Navarra, with help from Cathy Untalan and the Miss Earth Foundation. Books donated by the Rotary Club of Makati were given away as prizes during the question-and-answer portion after each story. Schatzi Quodala and Marielle Medina, Inquirer Research