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Following my previous article, ‘Where Unwanted Books Find Second Life,’ featured in the August issue of Greet Barrington, I embarked on a journey back to my country of birth – the Philippines. The highlight of my trip was attending the culmination ceremonies of the First Summer Reading Program at the T’boli Community Library and Culture Hub (TLC) in the remote town of Lake Sebu in the southern Philippines. This visit held immense personal significance, as it marked my first meeting with Michael Angelo Yambok, a visionary T’boli community leader who spearheaded the TLC Library project. Our journey began just before the pandemic struck in March 2020, and doubts loomed over whether our mutual dream would ever materialize.

Thanks to the generosity of financial donors from both the United States and the T’boli Community, the library opened its doors on Marcy 27, 2021, with a significant contribution of over 2,500 books, mainly from the Friends of the Barrington Public Library (FBPL) and the personal friends of the Hower-Bates Library Network. These unsold books from FBPL’s Book Sales filled the TLC library shelves from floor to ceiling, becoming a symbol of the community’s determination to provide educational opportunities to its children.

The Summer Reading Program was a resounding success, a collaborative effort between the library, a local college, and the T’boli School of Indigenous Knowledge and Traditions (SIKAT). Sixty T’boli children, ranging from preschool to sixth grade, eagerly participated. In the local Tagalog language, ‘sikat’ signifies the ‘shining sun’, and embodies hope, much like the new opportunities awaiting these indigenous children, many of whose grandparents were illiterate just half a century ago.

My 15-year-old granddaughter, Nyx Bates, joined me on this journey, bringing an extra layer of connection. She regaled the children with her reading, starting with ‘Spot Has a Sleepover,’ and when the kids clamored for more, she delighted them with ‘Pooh Goes Visiting.’ Nyx has been an integral part of our family’s Hower-Bates Library Network since age five, helping us send donated books to 55 libraries across the Philippines. The labels ‘Donated by the Friends of the Barrington Public Library’ were proudly displayed on the books she read to these children, books she had assisted in cleaning, labeling, packing, and shipping thousands of miles to the T’bol

i Community.

The success of the First TLC Summer Reading Project has inspired plans for its continuation next year. During the culmination ceremonies, the Mayor warmly welcomed over 200 community members, all adorned in traditional clothing. They had gathered to witness their children and grandchildren receiving Certificates of Recognition for completing the three-week reading program, a testament to the hope and progress kindled by this small community library in the heart of Lake Sebu.

Thank you, Friends of the Barrington Public Library for your role in bringing the joy of reading to the T’boli children.

By Prima Hower, Member of the Board, Friends of the Barrington Public Library


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