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Our partner, Kids Nook Integrated School, delivered joy—food, clothing, and books–to the children and families of Batad, Iloilo for Christmas last year. (Photo courtesy of Kids Nook.)

Joy, indeed! We believe this happy greeting works for all seasons. Thus, we began 2019 on a highly positive note, especially after closing 2018 with good news from volunteers, partners, and supporters of Woods and Books.

One of our partner schools in Iloilo, Kids Nook Integrated School, led by Teachers Teena Inayan Malhabour, Joy Capada, and Sheila Catalan, went on a journey of cheer and goodwill. They travelled all the way to the northern towns of Batad and Carles to give clothes, books, and food. Way to go, teachers!

Teacher Teena with children and families of Carles, Iloilo. (Photo courtesy of Kids Nook.)

Meanwhile volunteer  Rhods, marketing officer at SKY Broadband Iloilo, led her team’s December journey to northern Iloilo on their CSR (corporate social responsibility) mission, Bookas Palad. For Bookas Palad, SKY employees donate a portion of their salaries to buy books, distribute them, and do read-alouds. Sky partnered with Adarna Books, a Philippine company which publishes story books written by Filipino authors. Through Rhods, Woods and Books added books, student materials, and teacher materials donated by River Oaks Charter School to their Christmas pack.

Aside from storybooks and hands-on materials, Woods and Books also donated science textbooks, writing textbooks, and teacher resource guides. (Photo courtesy of SKY Iloilo.)

Volunteer Rhods (R) at the turnover ceremony for SKY’s Bookas Palad program in Carles. (Photo courtesy of Sky Iloilo.)

SKY employee Rogilie Dula donated her pocketbooks, now on their way to Book Latte. (Photo courtesy of SKY Iloilo.)

Volunteer Rhods was also responsible for making good on our promise to the local government of the town of Leon, Iloilo. On a visit to its famous Bucari Pine Forest, Woods and Books volunteers promised to donate books to the village day care center. With the help of Bombette Marin, Iloilo Provincial Officer, who facilitated our visit, and book donations from volunteers Leelo Solis and Stella Arungayan, we were finally able to send books to the “Summer Capital of Iloilo.”

Woods and Books volunteers climbing Bucari’s Pine Forest. It took two years—and several volunteers—to make good on our promise to bring books to the mountains of Leon, but we did it!

Meanwhile, newly-minted volunteer Joseph Albaña, of the Theater Arts Guilds of the University of the Philippines (TAGUPCI), in his own service-oriented travels throughout the island of Panay, linked us with school children of Pilar, Capiz. To quote the TAGUPCI anthem: “With love, we work together. Come rain or sunny weather!”

It doesn’t really matter where children read, how they read, when they read, or what they read. We’re just happy they read at all! (Photos courtesy of Mrs. Adora Delfin of Pilar, Capiz.)

Back in Iloilo, we ended last year with a Read-Aloud and Arts Activity, working with a new partner, Book Latte. Volunteer Jim read the English version of The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaula, while Doray read the Hiligaynon translation of the story.






After the read-aloud, the children made paper poinsettias with the help of volunteers Nian and Mitch. Mitch also happens to be the kind crafter behind Li’l Creatures, amirugumi toys, keychains, and bookmarks that she knitted and donated to Woods and Books.

(Top) Volunteer Mitch helping out with the poinsettia craft activity, (middle) a proud and happy owner of one of Mitch’s amigurumi, and (bottom) a shy, but still happy Li’l Creature owner. (Middle and bottom photos courtesy of parents and grandparent of Li’l Creatures owners.)

On Christmas Day, through the efforts of volunteer Rhemz and the kindness of Iloilo Mayor Joe Espinosa III, we were able to visit Balay Dalayunan, a halfway home for children in conflict with the law. According to the Community Center head, Elizabeth Sevilla, children at the center are provided with skills and values trainings, tutorials, sports and cultural activities, and psycho-social programs. Balay Dalayunan partners with the Department of Education, which provides informal classes, the Iloilo City Health Office, which provides free medical check-ups, and the Public Attorney’s Office, which provides legal assistance.

Volunteer (and all-around Iloilo City guide) Neil prepares books for Balay Dalayunan.

Balay Dalayunan center head, Elizabeth Sevilla (2nd from L) welcomed our volunteers to their library, where we dropped off our books and board games donations.

Often, we wonder if the literacy seeds we sow take root and grow strong in the children—and adults—we meet. Often, we wonder if we should even continue to do so.

Then, we see how children respond to the books, the services, and the activities we offer, and we are reenergized. It’s not about the challenges that we meet and master on the way to the children, though these, too, make us stronger and wiser. It’s about the joy that we get as we give of ourselves and the joy that we see in those to whom we give! HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone!

















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