"How can animals live underwater?"
"How come the shells in the story could talk?"
"Is the Sulawesi Sea is really that big?"
With kids, one never really knows what to expect, and such was the case during the storytelling sessions conducted for children from five barangays of Mabini, Batangas, during the Christmas school break. The children listened to the stories intently enough, but when their turn came to ask questions, they invariably amused or baffled the storytellers.
They were the first listeners to one of the stories in CI-Philippines’ My Sulu-Sulawesi Seas series of children’s storybooks. The series consists of three stories featuring various key areas of the Sulu-Sulawesi Seascape: Verde Island Passage, Cagayan Ridge, Tubbataha Reef, and Turtle Islands.
The Mabini kids were treated to a reading of “Inseparable Shells,” about three children who discover the wonders of the Verde Island Passage and Cagayan Ridge through the stories of three magical cone shells that they found along the beach.
The story enhanced the children’s familiarity with these areas, as the storytelling was accompanied by slideshows featuring underwater photos of the places and sea creatures being discussed. On the other hand, the discussion following the storytelling also proved to be equally important in reinforcing the messages of the story and eliciting feedback from the children.
The sessions were organized in cooperation with the school teachers and principals of the five barangay schools of Bagalangit, Ligaya, Sulo, San Teodoro, and Mainit. Three students from each of the barangays were also tapped to assist in the storytelling, playing the roles of the three children in the story.
“We’re quite thankful to the teachers and principals who were only too willing to organize their students into attending the storytelling sessions, even if it’s the Christmas break,” said Romy Trono, Country Executive Director of CI-Philippines. “They even trained and sent their best students to participate in the reading of the stories, which helped make the session more interesting for the children,” he added.
“It’s a great opportunity for the children to learn that they have the world’s richest marine resources right here in their own backyard, and that this is something that they should really be proud of,” said Minda Villas, the local Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer, who read the stories to the children.
Trono also said that several school officials already expressed interest in replicating the storytelling sessions in their respective schools in order to give other students the chance to enjoy the stories.
“This is precisely what we had in mind when we initiated the My Sulu-Sulawesi Seas series,” Trono said. “We wanted to reach out to this very important audience – the future generation – and we’re glad that the local government and the school officials are willing to work with us in accomplishing this.”