Christmas carols, gift-giving, story-telling, and lots of merry-making highlighted the launch of the Booklilit! Books for Bulilit Readers, held last Dec. 6 at the Filipinas Heritage Library in Makati City. The event also witnessed how two philanthropic organizations—Gawad Kalinga (GK) and Vibal Foundation—strengthened their partnership for the benefit of young children from the GK communities.
The Booklilit! StoryBooks is a joint project between GK – a volunteer organization which builds homes for informal settlers, and Vibal Foundation, Inc. – the philanthropic arm of leading educational publisher Vibal Publishing House, Inc. It is a collection of 16 colorful children’s storybooks that extoll the GK community values, written by award-winning writers Genaro Gojo Cruz, Dr. Luis P. Gatmaitan, Rhandee Garlitos, and Russell Molina.
GK founder Tony Meloto explained that Booklilit! is part of GK and Vibal Foundation’s literacy program for indigent children. “When you restore homes, community values, and now, literature to the Filipino poor, you restore their dignity. This is what Gawad Kalinga and our partner Vibal Foundation are to the Philippines,” said Meloto.
“We’re very happy that through these books, Vibal Foundation has captured the vision and values of Gawad Kalinga in nation-building that will help raise the patriotic quotient of the next generation,” Meloto added.
The launch was also attended by British Ambassador to the Philippines Mr. Stephen Lillie, foreign celebrity and former Bond Girl Rachel Grant, and other special guests including schoolchildren from the GK communities who received the Booklilit! Storybooks during a ceremonial turnover. Life-size cut-outs of the exciting characters from the storybook series were also posted around the venue to add a whimsical flair to the event.
Digital development editor Chris Datol of Vibal Foundation meanwhile explained that the Booklilit! Series, which includes the Sibol Series (for ages three to six years old) and Sagip Series (for ages seven to 13 years old), can be purchased initially through a sponsorship package for the children beneficiaries of GK communities. Datol encouraged donors to buy the entire Booklilit! set because each purchase will allow Vibal Foundation to subsequently distribute the same 16 titles for free at various Gawad Kalinga communities.
The launch likewise featured a moving rendition of Christmas carols by the Gawad Kalinga Tatalon Community Choir. Authors present participated in a story reading session of titles like “Olive Ridley Comes Home”, “Ang Lola Kong Mahilig Mag-utos”, “Ang Batang Maraming-Maraming Bahay”, and “Halimaw”, which the GK kids listened to in amusement. ###
(Photos by Marionne Cheng. Some rights reserved)