Smart brings young Boholanos to the wonders of storytelling

[15 June 2015] LOON, Bohol—For most kids in the rural areas, summer offers freedom to swim in the sea, catch spiders, and fly kites outdoors.

LOON, Bohol—For most kids in the rural areas, summer offers freedom to swim in the sea, catch spiders, and fly kites outdoors.

But the kids at Mocpoc Elementary School in Sandingan Island chose to stay indoors for a week to travel to imagined lands and kingdoms of fairies and superheroes.

Thanks to The Storytelling Project, a literacy advocacy program, and Smart Communications (Smart), these young Boholanos were able to spend part of their summer for learning.

“We organize this summer activity for a chosen community each summer not only to make reading an enjoyable experience for children, but also to impart values through storytelling,” says Atty. Jane Paredes, senior manager and head of Public Affairs VisMin.

“This year, we partnered with The Storytelling Project, which shares our advocacy for learning, and chose the Sandingan Island to host the activity,” added Paredes.  The island was among those devastated by the Bohol earthquake in 2013.

“This gave us the chance to learn good values from stories we heard—these lessons would help us become good citizens,” says 11-year old Mary Joy Laguardia.

Her mother wants her to be a nurse someday, but Mary Joy says, she’d rather be a teacher because she wants to help educate young people.

Nakatabang ang storytelling kay gi-mold ang among gagmay’ng hunahuna to think creatively. Karon mas ganahan na ko mobasa kay gitudloan pud mi unsaon pagbasa (The storytelling activity has helped push our young minds to think creatively.  Now, I am more keen to read because we were taught how to do it right),” she says.

The stories were acted out by student volunteers from the University of San Jose Recoletos with each story emphasizing life-long lessons for the kids. At the culminating activity, the student volunteers acted out a story of a fairy, who transformed the lives of three environmental polluters.

Mary Joy’s favorite story at the week-long storytelling sessions was Papel de Liha, about a mother whose hands were very rough they were even likened to a sand paper.  This was because she had to do all the housework by herself, until her daughter realized that she need to help her mother with the chores.

Nakat-on ko nga kinahanglan dili ta manglangas ug nga motabang jud ta pirmi sa atong ginikanan, (It taught me to be a good daughter and to help my parents at home),” she says.

She adds the activity made her summer meaningful.

“Magsige ra mig duwa-duwa, maligo’g dagat ug mouban ni Mama sa Tagbilaran. Wala nausik akong summer kay daghan kog nakat-unan (We used to just play outside, take a swim, or go with my mother to Tagbilaran. This time, my summer was spent wisely because I learned many things,” she says. “What a memorable and wonderful experience it was.”

Gerald Galdo, an engineer who works for Smart, says, “It feels great to be a part of it.”

It was his first time to volunteer for the storytelling sessions but he was inspired to see happy and smiling faces in the classrooms. “The project encourages kids to read storybooks and learn from them. It’s a better way to spend summer.”

Felix Sagetarios, the school principal shares the same observation and says it has even a bigger impact on the community. 

Dili lang mga kabataan nato ang nakapahimus sa kaayohan sa proyekto, kung dili ang tagsa-tagsa ka panimalay nga adunay estudyante (The kids were not the only ones who benefited from this project but also the households who have students at the storytelling session). Wala sila sa eskuylahan apan adunay gihapoy nakat-unan (They may no longer be in school but they continue to learn).”

Before the sessions, The Storytelling Project came to Bohol to facilitate a seminar for teacher-volunteers. Marilou Lapiceros was one of the trainees and was very happy to be a part of it.

“This is a blessing for us. Nindot jud kayo ang pag impart sa storytelling strategies. Magamit gyud namo as teachers (Creative storytelling strategies were shared to us.  This is useful for us as teachers),” says Lapiceros.

“There is a skills transfer from the teachers with their improved facilitating skills that they can also impart to the kids. It ultimately improves the children’s reading skills. This is very relevant especially in the K-to-12 curriculum, where storytelling strategies is essential in Grades 1 and 2,” adds Sagetarios.

When summer started, Mary Joy had a lot of choices before her on how she’ll spend her vacation. She could have chosen playing all day, swimming, or accompanying her mother to the city. But she chose the storytelling sessions because just like the other kids, she was excited to get to school each day to hear another story.

“Now, I am really inspired to read. I thank the people who have deep concern for us. If the world had more people like them, it would be a better place,” she says.

Smart has been pursuing various initiatives that help enhance Philippine education across all learning stages in both formal and non-formal setting.