February: A season of going back and giving back

By Katrin Jane Caling

Posted at Feb 27 2014 09:04 PM | Updated as of Feb 28 2014 05:04 AM

It's ironic how the commemoration day of Saint Valentin, a Christian martyr who was persecuted because of his acts of marrying couples despite the government's opposition to it, is celebrated by the world in the most festive ways.

Every February, almost everything you see has a touch of red, expensive flowers are delivered to their recipients up until midnight, and cheap ones are sold on the streets. There was even a marketing ad recently about a proposal leading to the purchase of a particular condo in the metro.

On the dimmer part of the limelight, three accomplished men celebrated Valentine's Day unconventionally. They went back to places which molded them to the person they are now to give love to the youth by sharing with them the gift of reading and dreaming.

Harvey Keh, the executive director of Acts of Hope for the Nation Foundation, merrily recalled his childhood as he gave his message during the 94th library inauguration of AHON Foundation at the Dr. Clemente N. Dayrit Sr. Elementary School in Angeles City, Pampanga.

"It feels so good to be back. This brings back so many memories. Sa Malabon po kasi ako tumira noong bata ako. Palagi po akong dinadala dito ng magulang ko kasi maraming pasyalan dito. Ngayon po, bumalik
ako, kasama ang AHON Foundation hindi para mamasyal kundi para tulungan kayo na ipalaganap at pagibayuhin ang kultura ng pagbabasa dito sa inyong eskwelahan. Naniniwala po kami na maraming matututunan
ang mga bata sa mga librong dala namin dahil ito rin ang mga klase ng mga libro na binabasa ng mga estudyante sa private schools sa Maynila."

Students of Clemente Dayrit Elementary School with their new books.

His thoughts were gladly received by the school. Before the ceremony ended, the students chanted their school's motto about reading, "Go! Go! Go! Read! Read! Read! The more you read, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more you know. The more you know, the smarter you

The principal, Mrs. Ofelia Canlas, also mentioned about the school's upcoming policy, the implementation of the reading time. This is a special time of the day wherein the students will allot an hour to go to the library and read.

Eight years ago, Mr. Hector O. Tagaysay, president of Filway Marketing Inc., inaugurated AHON Foundation's first, second, and third library in Marikina City. He visited Marikina City again to officially open Sto. Nino Elementary School's newly refurbished library to its 3,400
students. He also thanked the school for producing a person like Gerald Domer.

Gerald Domer, the district sales manager of AHON Foundation's mother company, Filway Marketing Inc., wholeheartedly shared his grade school memories as he came back to his alma matter, Sto. Niño Elementary School.

"Mga bata, kami ng asawa ko, pareho kaming graduate
dito. Pareho rin kaming produkto ng reading program ng Ateneo noong bata pa kami. Sa mga librong binabasa namin, natuto kaming mangarap. Nakatapos kami ng pag-aaral, nagtrabaho sa malalaking kompanya, at ngayon ay bumabalik kami dito para mapangyari ang aming pangarap, na marami pang tumulad sa amin. Marami kayong mga bagong libro. Kalahating milyon ang halaga ng mga iyan. Gamitin ninyo kasi hindi lahat nabibigyan ng ganyan. Sa bawat pahinang babasahin ninyo, may
matutuklasan kayo na bago. At kung kayo ay mangangarap, lakihan na ninyo kasi libre naman iyan. Pag niliitan ninyo ang inyong mga pangarap, 20 taon mula ngayon, magsisi kayo dahil kung ano lang ang pinangarap ninyo, iyon lang ang maaabot nyo. Sasabihin ninyo sa sarili nyo, sana nilakihan ko ang mga pangarap ko dati."

As the month of sharing the love ends, more than 5,000 public elementary school students discover new things through the Time Life Books donated by AHON Foundation.

Imagine what would happen if every Valentine's Day, Filipinos celebrate this occasion not just by sending flowers and chocolates to their loved ones but by also sharing books to every Filipino child. If this happens, our dream of a literate and well-educated Filipino society will in due time become a reality.

AHON Foundation is a non-profit organization that aims to raise the literacy rates in the country by donating books. For queries, contact (02) 433 - 1440.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.