You’ve read it right! Some of you may be familiar with the story Two Friends, One World written by Ramon C. Sunico. Two friends, namely, Antonio, a blind young boy, and Francisca, a sighted young girl, tell stories of each other’s world and discover a larger, more wonderful world where they both belong. Every Saturday afternoon, Antonio’s mother brings him to the park where Francisca is already waiting. One afternoon, Francisca described to Antonio a tree as being taller than him, her, his mama and Francisca’s papa standing on each other’s shoulders. She said, “Now we are walking near the tree I told you about. Let’s call it our mango tree.”
Similarly, under a shady mango tree, eighteen children awaited the visit of seven teacher-volunteers in the morning of September 19, 2015. It is the first in a series of sessions that the Xavier School Nuvali faculty and staff outreach program will be facilitating this school year for thePhilippine Jesuit Prison Service Foundation, Inc. (PJPS) in Muntinlupa. The program, dubbed as “BASA!” (Buklat Aklat, Sama-samang Aangat!), aims to conduct supplementary classes for grade school to high school students who are scholars of the PJPS.
The session focused on the story of Antonio and Francisca. The class was divided according to age groups and worked on story-related group activities. The children were too eager to display their output, which exhibited promising writing skills and creativity. After some refreshments, a summary of understandings derived from the story concluded the morning. While the students and teachers were exchanging goodbyes, some expectant children cried out, “Babalik po kayo sa susunod na Sabado?” “Mga bata, magkita-kita tayo tuwing ikatlong Sabado ng buwan!” was a teacher’s reply.
As “BASA!” does its regular visits to the PJPS scholars, it desires to continue being a venue for sharing of valuable experiences among the children and XSN faculty and staff. In the story, Francisca says, “But it (the world) is so big and beautiful and there are so many things going on inside it, that it takes two friends to enjoy its sweetness.” Just like Francisca, “BASA!” aspires to rouse the children’s awareness of the world’s sweetness — “like a great, cool, sweet, smooth, golden-yellow mango.”