The former office of the Cebu City Tourism Office has been transformed into two spaces: a Braille library and a reading room/study center. These are all located on the second floor of the Rizal Memorial Library and Museum, just above the main library.
I was there yesterday to give a talk to parents about Basadours, a literacy development/volunteer storytelling group which promotes love for reading through storytelling.
The discussion started with the story of the Basadours, a group, which I always describe as a testament of community service and volunteerism. It is interesting to note that we chose February 25 of the year 2012 as our official launching date. We aligned it with the commemoration of the peaceful Edsa revolution. On the same date, six years ago, we waged a different kind of revolution; a revolution that committed to contribute in the fight against illiteracy.
I read a story to my fellow parents yesterday. The story was entitled “Si Lurat, Kidhat, Pirok ug Piyong” which tells the story of four brothers looking for the beautiful star. Each one came prepared: Lurat with his lamp, Kidhat with three pieces of pan de sal, Pirok with a rusty sword, and Piyong with a dilapidated basket. I read the story in Visayan. The parents and guardians giggled as we moved from one page to another. Who ever said adults are old to listen to stories?
What I always emphasize in every talk is the need for each child to be read to. Parents are the best persons to be their children’s first and primary teachers. The teachers can prepare perfectly-crafted lesson plans but all will be for naught if the parents do not commit to create a nurturing, fun and conducive learning environment for their children. In my blog, Reading Ruffolos, I review and recommend books for younger children. I do this to share my notes and to encourage parents that 10 minutes is all it takes to read to our children. I take pride in wearing costumes and making props in storytelling sessions with my children. They ask more questions, they have wide vocabulary, and they have become more expressive and vocal about their feelings and emotions.
It has been a conscious decision of the Basadours to hold a simultaneous sharing session with parents and caregivers alongside the children’s storytelling sessions. Yesterday, we had a crash course on how to become better storytellers to children. The talk included the benefits of reading, storytelling techniques, and songs and energizers.
An experienced storyteller named Linda Fredericks once said that storytelling can have the following impacts to children: develop the imagination, improve writing and reading skills, and strengthen critical thinking skills. These are skills that we need for our people to make informed choices and opinions especially in the age of fake news and post-truths.
Wewrappedupyesterday’ssessionwithabriefdiscussion of the Basadours’ Child Protection Policy, which is aligned with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Basadours is an advocate of upholding these rights. That is why all our officers and members commit to our Child Protection Policy. This includes asking the permission of parents and guardians when we take pictures of children and post them in our official social media pages.
We work hand in hand with the Cebu City Public Library for the endeavor to make children love reading. We are at the library at least once a month for storytelling sessions. In some of these sessions, I bring my children so they can interact with other children and spend time with their Basadours Titos and Titas.
Last Wednesday, I took all three of them to the Christmas tree lighting ceremony of SM City Cebu, a spectacular reveal of the wishes of hope, peace, joy and love.
That was the first Christmas tree lighting event that I took my kids to. I used to be afraid that their restless, mischievous nature will disrupt the program or ruin the experience of other people. But I have had enough of being judged for my parenting style. Last year, I vowed to be a better parent by letting my children attend more events where they can mingle with children and adults alike.
I grew up being told that Christmas is for children. With all the colors and decorations made to be glittery and artsy, children are the best judge of a tree’s magnificence.
While I spent the evening appeasing Jeff Jr. because it took some time for the white curtain to be drawn to reveal the tree and houses, the sacrifice of dragging three children from Liloan to Cebu City paid off as I saw the wonder in their eyes when they saw “magic” happened in front of them.
We clapped, cheered and ate ice cream that night. Then, we went home inside a car where stories and songs were exchanged between children and adults before the three, young mutants sailed away to dreamland.