This December, Eskritoryo Pilipinas organized a book drive to benefit the reading program at Kalayaan National High School in Bagong Silang, Caloocan. We had read about them in an online article, and we were very inspired by the efforts of the students and the teachers to promote reading among kids.
After packing all our books, we made our way from Katipunan to Caloocan. We decided to take a cab since we don’t know the area, and we were very grateful to the driver who agreed to wait for us and seemed relatively familiar with the area. We would have gotten lost by ourselves!
Still, we didn’t let the distance and the difficulty deter us. We arrived at Kalayaan National High School at around 4:30 PM. and were surprised by the (very!) warm welcome waiting for us. We had assumed that we were only meeting their program coordinator, the very enthusiastic and dedicated Ms Debbie Asuncion, to drop the books off. It was a great opportunity to meet the members of the Youth P.O.W.E.R. program, who were all morning students and stayed longer to wait for us.
The Youth P.O.W.E.R. (Promotes Opportunities for Worthwhile and Effective Reading) program at Kalayaan National High School in Caloocan City promotes a love for reading among high school students, through reading circles, story re-tellings, and book discussions. The group also encourages the high school students to speak English “without fear, without shame, and without guilt.” Book lovers who qualify to join are issued a POWER Card, which allows them to participate and borrow books from the reading lounge.
When we unpacked the books, there was really an uncontainable excitement among the kids and the teachers. We saw the students reach for their favorite books. A friend had generously donated a boxed set of Harry Potter, but it wasn’t all the kids were happy about. We saw them flipping through the pages of Diana Wynne Jones, intrigued by a thin volume called Talambuhay ng mga Manunulat, calling dibs on the first two issues of Skyworld. I spoke with one of the students — the group’s property custodian — who admitted that her favorite was the Goosebumps series, which we also had.
It’s an incredible feeling to see how many young readers we have in the Philippines. We want to be able to see more of that, and give groups and programs like Kalayaan National High’s Youth POWER program as much support as we can. Kalayaan High, thank you for inspiring us with your enthusiasm and love for reading!
Eskritoryo Pilipinas would like to thank friends and donors for generously sharing their books with us. As book lovers, you would have been amazed to see the looks of joy on the kids’ faces once we began placing the books on the table. Eskritoryo Pilipinas is truly grateful for the support.