Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

PDI-inspired Olongapo tutor holds own read-along

OLONGAPO CITY—When English teacher Eva Imingan picked up a copy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper last year, a story on its Read-Along sessions caught her attention.

The project was launched in May last year by the Inquirer Research Department, Library and the Junior Inquirer to promote the love of reading among children through storytelling sessions with celebrities and volunteer readers.

Inspired, Imingan thought the project was worthy of emulation: Why not start read-along sessions for her students at the Nellie E. Brown Elementary School here?

On Friday, after more than a year of planning and enlisting support for the project, Imingan’s dream became a reality.

The project became the first of a series of storytelling sessions in her school district (with six public elementary schools) which hopes to spread the love of reading to as many children as possible.

Convincing teachers, parents and students to volunteer their time and effort for the reading project was a challenge, she said.

Following closely to the Inquirer Read-Along session, Imingan had to find a celebrity guest reader—someone who has made a name in her profession.

Local celebrity

Imingan did not have to look far. She turned to one of Nellie E. Brown’s own—Arlyn dela Cruz, a broadcast journalist and Inquirer contributor.

“She is the best choice to jumpstart the read-along session, ” Imingan said. “Last year, [Dela Cruz addressed] the graduating kids here. I am so grateful she has kept in touch all these years and has never forgotten her roots.”

Despite her busy schedule, Dela Cruz readily agreed to be a guest reader when she received Imingan’s call.

“It’s hard to say no to this because I love teaching kids and I graduated from this school,” she said.

Working student

Dela Cruz, a 1983 graduate of the Nellie E. Brown Elementary School, was formerly editor of the school paper.

She recalled her days at the school. “There was no shortage of books. Americans from the [United States] Naval Base donated books to our library. The school itself was named [after] an American school teacher,” she said.

In time, Dela Cruz would move to Metro Manila to pursue her dream of becoming a journalist.

Desperate times

“I was a working student, a teaching aide here in Olongapo while studying in college … If I had not become a journalist, I would have been a teacher,” she said.

Dela Cruz read “Tight Times” written by Jeanette Patindol, which is the story of a family of rats coping with unemployment and desperate times.

“This is a book I read to my children especially now that there is a financial crisis and we all have to cut down on our expenses,” she said.

During the session, her audience of about 50 children—from Grades 1 to 6—listened attentively, sometimes laughing sometimes frowning, especially when the story turned to the hardships of the characters.

At the end of the reading session, Dela Cruz showed her audience slides of children from poor families.

Children learn

Lester Sangil, a sixth grader, said he learned the value of hard work and helping people.

Trisha Mae Umayam, a third grader, said she enjoyed herself and hopes to join future read-along sessions.

Dela Cruz said: “If you develop a love for reading, it will stay with you for the rest of your life.”

Imingan said she was glad the project has taken off.

“I’m sure readers of the Inquirer will be inspired when they help kids to develop a love for reading,” she said. By Robert Gonzaga - PDI Central Luzon Desk

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