Friday, May 17, 2013



It is a match made in heaven. The Storytelling Project’s (TSP) mission is to help Filipino children create a reading habit by conducting storytelling sessions and by giving them storybooks. Pusong Pinoy, on the other hand, aims to promote literacy and eradicate poverty by giving out books to poor schools and communities that need them.  So on November 24, 2012, Pusong Pinoy volunteers Ningning Doble, Joanne Suyam, Florence O. Temporal and Marty Goitia joined forces with TSP Founder Rey Bufi, his supportive partner, Mary Grace Soriano, and their friends, Cynthia Santos and Jeena Balagtas, as Rey Bufi made his return trip to Sitio Pinalpal in Pozzorubio, Pangasinan.

Two years ago, Rey Bufi joined Grace when she volunteered to visit Pinalpal. The visit was providential and by his second visit, he decided to conduct the pilot run of TSP in this community. “I saw in the community elements that I was looking for. The parents are actively participating in school activities, the teachers are supportive and the whole community is like one big family. So I went back to Manila, I started looking for sponsors and by January (2012), I was there already.” He stayed and read stories to the children for 21 days. His target group was the lowest performing children in their formative years (Grades 1-3) with the aim that these children will learn how to read and develop a reading habit.

According to Bufi, developing this habit “would help them become critical thinkers, increase their self-esteem, develop interpersonal skills, thus, help them be more active in their studies.” After the successful completion of the first phase of TSP, Bufi’s next task was to gather books so that the community could put up their own library. He learned about Pusong Pinoy through TSP co-founder, Manny Vazquez, who had the chance to tell PP Charter Team Leader Ningning Doble about TSP. Thinking that Pusong Pinoy was the perfect partner for the Pinalpal library project, Bufi asked for the much needed books during Pusong Pinoy's Summit held in July this year.

On the 24th of November, Pusong Pinoy's team came laden not only with 500 storybooks, but 85 pairs of slippers for the children as well. Transporting the books and slippers to Sitio Pinalpal was no mean feat. Luckily, volunteer Alvin Sabado, his father Dominador and cousin Melvin brought along their sturdy and reliable 4x4 Land Cruiser. While some of the volunteers trekked through rice paddies and crossed a narrow hanging bridge, the others rode along with the Sabados passing through a riverbed fraught with rocks and boulders.

The long and arduous journey to the sitio was made all worth it when the volunteers saw how happy the children were to receive the books, their very own books! Their eyes widened and their jaws dropped in excitement as the boxes were opened, revealing the beautifully-colored story books. From that point on, as the children browsed through the numerous books on hand, they were transported to a world of their own. As the day progressed, the volunteers along with the parents of the community, took the time to sort out the books, categorize and label them in color codes accordingly. This color-coding system will help the teachers and parents guide the children in choosing the appropriate books for their level and at the same time, allow the children to maintain the order of books with the minimum of adult assistance.

The day ended with a simple lunch and a heartfelt prayer of thanks offered by one of the community members. The bayanihan spirit is a trait that is almost second nature to Filipinos. In the days of old, Filipinos would literally carry bamboo houses on their shoulders in order to help a neighbor relocate. Pusong Pinoy is an organization that thrives on team work and so it is proud to be a partner to The Story Telling Project. It is the Filipino child that we now carry on our shoulders and we will not stop until we safely bring them to a better place.

*** Our deepest gratitude goes out to the selfless Pastora Connie Ragado of Faith Fellowship Pozorrubio and the wonderful community members who welcomed the volunteers with open arms and who believe that their children will have a better future if they develop the habit of reading and are committed to make sure that the simple library system and reading program in Sitio Pinalpal will be implemented. Special thanks to "Swannderwoman" of Melbourne, Australia for donating 45 pairs of slippers and to Pusong Pinoy's Fairfield Team Leader, Arnel Francisco and Vice Team Leader, Chinky Francisco for donating 40 pairs of slippers.