In September 2014, I participated in Museo Pambata’s Storytelling Workshop facilitated by Kuya Bodjie Pascua of the famous children’s TV program, Batibot. Despite the storm that Wednesday morning, I braved the streets and battled through the floods at United Nations Ave. LRT Station, just to reach Museo Pambata on time. As a Marketing professional, I was motivated to enroll in the workshop to learn the craft, which can help improve my communication skills. However, through the session I realized how storytelling was more than just a skill, rather, a powerful tool that could change the world.
It was in the workshop when I met Kuya Rey Bufi, the founder of The Storytelling Project (TSP), a non-governmental organization that goes to various remote communities to tell stories to kids. He used to work for a telecommunications company; but after attending the same workshop with Kuya Bodjie years back, he got inspired and founded TSP. TSP believes that “little by little, together, we can build a nation of learners”. Armed with storybooks, they would stay in the community for weeks to inspire the children to read. According to Kuya Rey, the children would be interested in discovering the wonders of the stories because of what they see and hear through storytelling. True enough, the teachers and the parents of the children who experienced storytelling sessions with TSP said that they saw improvements in the learning and behavior of the kids.
Kuya Rey has been an inspiration, and since then I’ve been a supporter of the group and their advocacy. In fact, we selected TSP as the beneficiary of our group, ALAB, an organization of artists-volunteers, in one of our Open Mic events. More than this, however, I realized that I could use the storytelling skill that I learned to touch the lives of these children and bring hope to them, just like what TSP has been doing.
Thus, last November 2015, I joined the annual outreach project of my friends from MAFIA (Mars and Friends in Action) and conducted storytelling with the kids of Mt. Timbak in Benguet. I used to participate by donating books and other things to be brought to the community. But for this year, I decided to go with the group and do the storytelling myself. I shared the story “Ang Unang Unggoy” (“The First Monkey”), which teaches children about being industrious. It was a fulfilling experience seeing them enjoy how I changed voices, made various facial expressions, and moved around to give life to the story.
I will be in Mt. Timbak again in 2016. And I told my friend Mars, the founder of our group MAFIA, that whenever there’s an opportunity, I would love to do storytelling again. This is my own way of giving back and paying forward. I believe that through this, I can contribute to creating a better world, especially for the less fortunate children.