March 24, 2014: Not long ago, Janise (off the boat WIND CHIMES), Judy (MERIDIAN) and I went to Olongapo National High School to see the final results of a book project that Janise and I had a hand in helping with last year.
It all started when my friend Donna, one half of a couple from Kansas who are Peace Corp. volunteers in Olongapo City, suggested her husband Pat could use some help with a shipment of about 2,000 books that had recently arrived from the United States in several large boxes.
The books were donated by a Filipino-American charity called Bagong Kulturang Pinoy and were meant to be used to get remedial readers interested in reading. Bagong Kulturang Pinoy is a Tagalog saying that roughly translates to mean “new Filipino culture.” It’s their mission to develop a reading culture and promote literacy among children in poverty-stricken areas of the Philippines.
I’d been looking for something to do and Janise, a retired school teacher from Australia, was also interested in helping out. So we ventured off to the high school to help Pat and his legion of high school volunteers. We assigned accession numbers, stamped every book, hand wrote catalog cards, categorized them into fiction and non-fiction, and separated books into easy readers and more advanced.
Just before I was ready to head home to Canada for Christmas, Pat was able to enlist the assistance of a group of library students from one of the local colleges. They each needed 150 hours of on-the-job experience to qualify for graduation and their enthusiasm put us out of work, Pat included, but they got the job done in record time.
The library, located in a corner of the Olongapo City National High School library, is now open for business and students interested in the books can take them home to read…something they aren’t able to do with the library’s regular collection. It’s also a resource for teachers at schools located throughout the region, who can borrow books for their classrooms.
It may be hard these days for books to compete with smart phones and tablets for students’ attention, but the library is getting more use as students find out about it.
The day we visited the school earlier this month was special for another reason. Children International, in cooperation with a local partner, the St. Benilde Centre for Global Competence, had donated a huge shipping container full of new and lightly used textbooks. Teachers from different schools in the Olongapo region were on hand to select much needed books for their classrooms. It was really quite impressive, especially when I found a bunch of photos online showing the amount of work that went into unloading the shipment and organizing the books.
With additional photos from the Facebook page of St. Benilde Centre for Global Competitiveness.