Layag sa Zambales: Storytelling and Book Making

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

5 minutes away from the municipal hall of San Antonio, Zambales is a charming home for kids with a great view of the surrounding mountains of Zambales.

Shepherd of the Hills or SOTH is a child care organization that employs developmental programs  adopted and designed to specifically address changing needs of children and youth in crisis. Those who lived in the streets and have been abandoned, abused, exploited, neglected, orphaned  and whose future is bleak and uncertain;  children who  came from family living in extreme poverty and are dependent on outside assistance, students and out of school youth  who are struggling to live a successful and healthy life,  are the main focus of attention of SOTH.

For one afternoon, volunteers of Layag Pilipinas conducted a story telling session and book making workshop for the kids currently being housed at SOTH Zambales.

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At the storytelling session, we shared the legend of Malakas and Maganda, the first people in the Philippines. Legends, or mga alamat, is a popular form of literature that started out in the olden days, when the grown-ups make up their own stories about the origins of things and places to tell to their little ones for their bed time story. Most legends impart moral guidance.

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After the story telling session, the volunteers asked if the kids know how to make their own legends wherein the kids said that they cannot. Refusing to take no for an answer, the facilitator went around each table, encouraging each child to say or contribute a few lines until we have managed to create our own story – Ang Alamat ng Tsinelas (The Legend of the Slipper). The story goes like this:

There is a woodcutter from the island of Palawan named Juan Pedro. One day, he went to the forest to do his woodcutting duties when he saw a most peculiar tree. Its trunk was white with a fairly smooth surface.  As he approached the tree, a big bird suddenly appeared out of nowhere, poised to attack Juan Pedro. As the bird swooped down, Juan Pedro managed to avoid its attack, so instead of hitting Juan Pedro, the big bird’s huge beak hit the trunk of the peculiar white tree, which in turn started to ooze out a peculiar liquid. This peculiar liquid ran down the trunk until it hit the forest floor and coated a pile of leaves, making the first slipper in the island of the Philippines.

The children applauded themselves when the story was finished. They could not believe that they could actually do it and we, the volunteers of Layag Pilipinas, was happy to be able to help them realize that all it takes is a little imagination and creativity.

After that, the volunteers divided themselves to each table to teach the kids how to make a storybook out of the story they have just made. With crayons, oil pastels, colored markers and colored papers, the children has come up with unique storybooks complete with their own illustrations.

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Each work was incredible, and to think that at first, they weren’t even sure that they could do it.

Sometimes, people  just need a little push, a little spark of imagination and creativity to realize that one could do anything. Thank you for the volunteers of Layag Pilipinas for doing that for the children of SOTH!

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