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On Navy Day, read-along held in 8 provinces

For 500 children, it was a day for make-believe.

Gathered in separate groups in various locations around the country, the youngsters—for a few hours, at least—turned into environmental warriors battling to save the “pawikan” (sea turtle) from extinction or fighting fishermen engaged in dynamite fishing.

They also rode a whale as it swam toward a ship it had fallen in love with.

These were the highlights of Saturday’s special Inquirer Read-Along sessions held in Manila and eight provinces to mark the 114th anniversary of the Philippine Navy this month.

A separate read-along session was also held on Siargao Island, Surigao Del Norte, where at least 100 children listened to a story about taking care of the seas read by Climate Change Commission Vice Chair Mary Ann Lucille Sering.

The simultaneous storytelling sessions, using the Philippine Navy’s video teleconferencing system (VTS), featured returning storyteller Cheryl Cosim, Alitaptap readers Rich Rodriguez and Posh Develos, and Lt. Doris Dizon.

Children from eight other naval bases around the country joined the read-along sessions held at the Philippine Navy headquarters on Roxas Boulevard in Manila and broadcast simultaneously to the eight bases with the help of the VTS.

This was the second time the Navy and the Inquirer had used the VTS technology for simultaneous read-along sessions nationwide.

“Since the first time was such a success, we decided to do it again this year,” said the Navy chief, Vice Adm. Alexander P. Pama.

“We made some improvements and the children from the other naval bases were more receptive and participative. I think we were able to achieve our purpose, which is to encourage children to read. We are really thankful to the Inquirer for pushing the advocacy. I hope this can be a yearly thing,” he added.

The VTS is usually used by the Navy for meetings with staff and commanders from other naval forces, reducing the need to travel, according to Pama.

The participating bases were the Naval Station Felix Apolinario in Panacan, Davao City; Naval Base Rafael Ramos in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu; Naval Station San Miguel in San Antonio, Zambales; Naval Station Romulo M. Espaldon in Lower Calarian, Zamboanga City; Naval Station Julhasan A. Arasain in Rawis, Legazpi City; Naval Station Heracleo Alano in Sangley Point, Cavite City; Naval Station Ernesto R. Ogbinar in Poro Point, San Fernando City, La Union; and Naval Station Apolinario Jalandoon in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

Cosim, a television news personality, read “Si Carancal Laban sa mga Bongbongeros (Carancal against the Dynamite Pirates),” by Rene Villanueva and published by Lampara. It deals with the dangers of dynamite fishing.

“I was amazed at the technology. It was interesting to see children from different parts of the country react to the storytelling,” Cosim said.

Importance of reading 

A recent recipient of the military’s “Bayanihan” Award, Cosim also works with the Navy during medical missions featured in her program “Alagang Kapatid,” especially during typhoons and other emergencies. Her show airs on TV5.

A child right’s advocate, Cosim said she always made time for programs like the read-along, “which help children in so many ways.”

“The read-along is engaging and it keeps children entertained. More than anything, it is also an avenue to help children realize the importance of education. I feel happy that I am able to contribute to the cause of the Inquirer and the Navy,” she said.

Dizon, of the naval management and fiscal office, read “Domino and the Whale” by Lina B. Diaz de Rivera, a story about a whale which fell in love with a ship.

Rodriguez and Develos did a tandem reading of Adarna’s “Si Pilandok sa Pulo ng Pawikan,” by Victoria Añonuevo, a story about how the tiny warrior Pilandok saved the endangered species.

Through the VTS, the readers interacted with the kids, who were either children or dependents of Navy personnel, during the question and answer session that followed each reading.

In Cebu, PO1 Merly Mendoza beamed with pride when her daughter, Dorothy Anne, correctly answered a question. “This is a good sign, it means Dorothy Anne is paying attention and that she likes to read,” Mendoza said.

With street children

In Zamboanga, Rear Adm. Armando Guzman, commander of Naval Forces Western Mindanao, said the children were very attentive during the session. “When the book was flashed on screen, they read every word on it,” he said.

Guzman said read-along made reading books fun and exciting to the children.

In Davao City, children of soldiers sat side by side with those from Padre Pio’s Home for Children, a Catholic institution for orphaned and abandoned children.

In Palawan, John Rafael Ambag, 12, a son of an enlisted personnel, said it was “refreshing” to be part of the session. “We were made aware of how to take care of mother nature and how to avoid its destruction,” he said

In Legazpi City, Commo. Abraham Celzo, commander of Naval Forces Southern Luzon, and his staff led by Lt. Darwin Nieva, added a repertoire of songs and dances to the stories.

Thankful Laxa 

Henry Simpas, 10, of Cavite, said he enjoyed most the story of Pilandok and the pawikan.

“It teaches people to take care of animals, especially (the) endangered species,” Simpas said.

He said the story reminded him of a TV report about protecting endangered animals. “I also remembered my dog Nestor and our pet fish at home.”

In Manila, 13-year-old Paula Ghie Laxa said she felt “very thankful” to be in the session. Laxa is one of 20 street children brought by social welfare officials to the reading.
About 35 children of enlisted men trooped to San Antonio in Zambales to join the simulcast.

In La Union, 5-year-old LJ Jarata sat enthralled as she listened to the stories of sea creatures. Like the nearly 30 other children gathered at Poro Point in San Fernando City, she is a child of a Navy personnel.

“Storytelling and reading should really be instilled in children so they should not get trampled on by technology,” said CS3 Rosalinda Borja, president of the Naval Forces Women’s League, referring to computer games and social networking sites that have become popular among children.

Col. Elizabeth A. Vingson, president of Philippine Navy Officers Wives Association, said the program aimed to stress the importance of reading and reach out to children in need. “Reading is very important in the children’s learning process.” she said. 



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