The challenge: turn more than a hundred Filipino elementary pupils from six public schools into independent readers in just 18 days.
A task unthinkable? For a three educators driven by a passion to change every Filipino school children’s lives one syllable at a time, it is possible.
United by a goal to teach kids to read in Filipino, the trio of Noelle Pabiton, Sholeh Villoria and Tisha Gonzales-Cruz of the “Oras na Para sa Alpabasa” movement emerged as the victors in Pharmaton’s “Life Changers Challenge: Success in Numbers.”
An online, video-driven nationwide competition, it searched for passionate Filipinos who carry life-changing ideas that cause positive change to the world around them.
“At first, it was just me who made the teaching materials, and then I met teacher Noelle (Pabiton) and teacher Sholeh (Villoria) and several other teachers who share the same passion,” says Teacher Tisha Gonzales-Cruz, an educator-mom who jumpstarted the Alpabasa movement. “We made about a thousand Alpabasa sets only to realize that, what we’re doing isn’t enough; we needed expert reading teachers, expert writers who could help make the Alpabasa program happen.”
With the much-needed support slowly coming their way, the three ladies decided to put their idea to the ultimate test, hooking up with six public schools and 12 teachers to reach out to 106 non-reading school children and teach them to read in Filipino in less than three weeks.
At first, things looked bleak as most of the children could not even recognize the letters of the alphabet. But with the persistence to succeed and change lives for the better, the three educators were able to turn things around completely within the allotted period. In 18 days, 81 kids could read entire storybooks independently, 92 kids could read and write letters, all 106 kids mastered the sounds and actions.
Passion to change lives
“Regardless of age, when you teach someone to read, you really change their lives,” says teacher Noelle.
By breaking down the process of reading into several component parts and developing strategies to target each element, Alpabasa started shaping the lives of humble school children who had, in the past, encountered difficulty making progress.
Alpabasa was effective because it was developed with the children’s brains in mind. “It breaks down the many elements that eventually lead to reading, like sounds, actions, and visual integration,” explains teacher Sholeh.
The passion and the life-changing idea that the three pioneers of Alpabasa demonstrated during the finals night were more than enough to convince the judges to help further their endeavor and create a more meaningful impact to more lives in the near future.
By being named winners of the Life Changers Challenge—and recipients of the P1-million project grant, too—the group will soon see their brilliant idea progress and go beyond the scope it currently covers.
“Pharmaton draws inspiration from the passion and sustained energy that inspiring Filipinos, like Oras na Para sa Alpabasa, devote to become sources of positive change,” says Pharmaton Senior Brand Manager, Bernice Jalgalado. “In a year’s time, our campaign has transformed from recognizing individuals who drew inspiration from their passions, to actually searching for exceptional Filipinos who utilize their passions to create positive change and turn their ideas into realities that will impact the lives of people around them.”
Pharmaton’s Life Changers Challenge: Success in Numbers was launched last April and was bannered by real-life life changers, Reese Fernandez Ruiz of Rags2Riches, Inc., Futkal founder Peter “Futkalero Pedro” Amores, and culinary educator Chef Rob Pengson.
“The implementation of Oras na Para sa Alpabasa’s future programs will be documented by Pharmaton (Multivitamins, Minerals, Ginseng G115, and Deanol) and chronicled as a “Life Changer’s Journey.”